Throughout Tampa and other parts of Hillsborough Counties, motorists over the past year (especially on Sunday) have been confronted by eager newspaper salesmen or women, hawking copies of the Tampa Tribune and/or the St. Pete Times for purchase. In Tampa, they now wear brightly colored orange vests, as per the law.
Earlier this summer, St. Petersburg's City Council passed a new law on street solicitation, banning panhandlers, charity fundraisers and street vendors from soliciting on city streets. Shortly afterwards, the law survived a legal challenge brought by the Times. There have been reports that since then, some panhandlers have left St. Pete to solicit in Tampa.
Now Hillsborough County Commissioners say they want to pass a similar law. Wednesday morning, the board voted 7-0 to have County Administrator Mike Merrill come back soon with such a proposal, that was initiated by Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who said the issue of the homeless or newspaper vendors was getting worse, and said it was now a public safety issue that needs to be addressed.
Sharpe suggested that the county work with Tampa, Plant City and Temple Terrace, the three cities inside the county with their own governments, about a comprehensive plan. He also said that he wanted to work with the Homeless Coalition, to insure that the ordinance wouldn't appear to be punitive towards the homeless.