No tickets issued in first three months of new panhandling ordin - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

No tickets issued in first three months of new panhandling ordinance

BOCA RATON, Fla. - A law limiting panhandling in Palm Beach County has been in the books for three months. But records show deputies haven't issued one ticket.

Meanwhile, it's not hard to see panhandlers on medians and exit ramps; places prohibited under the new rules. 

Donnie is one of those panhandlers. He's made the streets his home for 11 years.

"Some of these people hate you, others want to help," he explains from West Boca Raton, where he typically roams.

Almost every day, he grabs his sign and asks people for money. He admits he'll spend some of it on booze, but he says the rest goes to food.

Donnie says he's had deputies come up to him recently. They explain the new law to him, but they haven't made him stop panhandling yet.

"We're not quite sure what's going on yet," Donnie explains.

The sheriff's office says it is educating panhandlers and deputies about the new rules.

It's giving out warnings now. It does not have a certain date when it will start handing out tickets, or arresting violators, like the ordinance dictates.

That has some people frustrated.

"I would like to see some action, but it doesn't surprise me," says Bernie Shapiro.

He sees panhandlers near his work at State Road 7 and Glades Road. He says keeping them off the street is a safety and quality of life issue. 

"I just find it annoying. I feel bad for them, but I find it annoying," he explains.

Donnie says even when the law is enforced, he'll be out there. The law does allow people to stand on the sidewalk as they ask for money.

"If I have to eat and buy my beer, I will do that. I'm going to survive no matter which way it takes," Donnie says.

Vice Mayor Mary Lou Berger spearheaded this ordinance. She says she's not disappointed there hasn't been a ticket issued so far. Saying she trusts the sheriff's office to start enforcing the law when it's appropriate. 

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