Moves to Ban Panhandling from Promenade Seating
By Jorge Casuso
February 29 -- The City Council Tuesday night directed
staff to draft an ordinance banning panhandling from benches and
seats on the Third Street Promenade.
Although the proposed measure is aimed at discouraging the homeless from monopolizing
chairs and benches on Santa Monica’s thriving commercial strip, City officials
said it does not target a particular group.
“I think this sounds like a reasonable solution to a problem that doesn’t
discriminate against any classes, it discriminates against an activity,”
said Council member Ken Genser. “It’s easily enforceable and fair.”
But Council member Kevin McKeown aired some concerns before joining in the
“I always look at these ordinances a tad askance because I worry that
they will be used to target certain people for certain purposes,” he said.
The ordinance, taken up at the request of police and Bayside District representatives,
addresses a longstanding problem, said Kathleen Rawson, the Bayside’s
“There are a large number of the benches that are used for hours day
in and day out for the purpose of soliciting money,” Rawson said.
City Attorney Marsha Moutrie said she counted only 100 benches and seats along
the three-block stretch of the Promenade, which often attracts thousands of
visitors per block during peak hours.
“The limited seating o the Promenade is occupied for long periods of
time by persons soliciting donations,” Moutrie said. “This is not
directed at the homeless. It’s directed at an activity that monopolizes
The ordinance would “respect” the First Amendment rights of those
seeking donations, Moutrie wrote in her staff report.
“They would still be able to seek donations on the Promenade and from
benches outside the Promenade in less crowded areas,” she wrote.
The proposed ordinance would cost little to enforce, Moutrie said.
“It is anticipated that staff’s recommendation would not generate
significant financial impacts,” Moutrie wrote.