New poll shows Tampa citizens want panhandling ban, but are skeptical city council will address the issue

Though Mayor Bob Buckhorn advocates a ban on panhandling in the city, the responsibility for crafting an ordinance to address the issue resides with the council.


Speaking with CL late Tuesday afternoon, the mayor said he hopes that the council could support what was just approved a version of the compromise passed last week in Pasco County, where the local commission voted for a six-week ban, to allow newspaper hawkers to sell papers on Sundays.


The Mayor said "If I can't get 100 percent, I'll settle for 80 percent," about such a compromise. A compromise we should add that was proposed during an earlier discussion on the board, but that compromise was rejected by then city attorney Chip Fletcher.


The Pasco County Attorney who has worked on the measure there, Kristi Wooden, said that her office recommended a complete ban to Pasco Commissioners - but after she was told to try to find a way to allow an exception on Sundays, her office was able to collect statistics that showed that there was less traffic that day, making conditions safer for both hawkers and motorists.


Mayor Buckhorn says its obviously anecdotally that traffic in Tampa is similarly reduced on Sundays, but the key is having a way to prove that so legally that exception could be sustained.


Back to that poll, 38 percent of those 500 Tampa citizens who were surveyed say the city council has done a poor job regarding the issue (36 percent say they've done a fair job and 19 percent say good or excellent). When asked how likely the odds were that the council would address the issue within the next six months, the public is skeptical, with 34 percent saying "somewhat likely," but another 34 percent replied by saying "not very likely."


The city council is scheduled to discuss panhandling on Thursday, and among those aware of the discussion are some of those panhandlers. CL noticed a sign at the corner of Columbus and Florida avenue over the weekend alerting passers by about the workshop.


Also that polls shows Mayor Buckhorn with a 51 percent approval rating, with 28 percent disapproving, and 20 percent not certain.


Just for fun, the polls asks Tampa residents if they think former Mayor Pam Iorio should run for governor in 2014 - with 60 percent say yes. The poll also showed Tampa residents mixed whether Charlie Crist

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This Thursday the Tampa City Council will hold a workshop on the issue of panhandling in Tampa.

The discussion comes as a new poll conducted of Tampa citizens by the national firm Survey USA says that 70 percent of those polled believe the city should not allow such activities (only 25 percent support the status quo).

But after months of discussion about the issue at the city council, the same poll suggests that city residents don't have a lot of faith that anything will be done about from city leaders.

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