City Council approves pedestrian safety ordinance | KOB 4
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City Council approves pedestrian safety ordinance

Morgan Aguilar
November 07, 2017 08:28 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- There are several intersections across Albuquerque where drivers have come to expect panhandlers. Most of them are on medians near freeway on- and off-ramps -- places that are now prohibited for pedestrians under a new city ordinance.

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The Albuquerque City Council passed the ordinance late Monday night. The ordinance never specifically mentions panhandling. But in addition to banning occupying highway, on-ramps, off-ramps and medians, it makes any physical interaction between a pedestrian and a driver illegal. That includes handing someone food, water, or money.

The ordinance takes effect five days after it is published. Click here to read the ordinance.

City Councilor Trudy Jones said the measure is meant to keep everyone safe. The ordinance cites New Mexico’s high rate of fatalities and crashes involving both pedestrians and cyclists.

"I think they have the right to be where they want to be, they have a personal responsibility also, and if they want to be in that area it's their choice," said Albuquerque resident Angelica Jimenez.

The ACLU feels the ordinance is unconstitutional. They said they will pursue legal action if the bill passes.

"We believe this proposal would violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it is designed to target protected speech, particularly panhandling, based on its content rather than on neutral and legitimate public safety concerns," said Steven Robert Allen, director of Public Policy for the ACLU of New Mexico. "This proposal is also problematic because it is both vague and overly broad, making it difficult to determine what conduct it would actually apply to.”

Sandy Mutter was passing through Albuquerque but noticed several panhandlers. She said she lives near Detroit where a similar ordinance is already in place.   

"It seems to have eliminated some of the panhandlers that were on the corners near the freeways," Mutter said.

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Morgan Aguilar

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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