New York to restrict panhandlers at Times Square
8 April 2016 Entertainment News
Fourth Estate Staff
New York City, NY, United States (4E) – The New York City council has approved a bill on Thursday that will restrict “aggressive panhandling” at the Times Square.
The measure comes after complaints have increased last summer about the growing number of costumed characters and topless woman asking for tips from tourists in exchange for posing in their photographs.
Councilman Daniel Garodnick said in a statement, “They get into fights with each other. They grope people and they get arrested for assault and battery at an increasing rate.”
The Department of Transportation could restrict the panhandlers to defined zones only. However, Abdel Amine Elkhezzani , dressed as Spider-Man, said the bill would put him and others out of business.
The department has a new job of creating the so-called “special commercial zones” and Manhattan elected officials as well as community board members and Times Square business owners suggested that such area should be divided to three public spaces.
One of the spaces will have civic zones for free speech activities, approved concessions, and permitted events. The second space will accommodate people soliciting passersby. The third zone will allow the free flow of pedestrians.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has talked about the issue last summer and said that panhandlers dressed up in different costumes should be regulated. He also initiated a crackdown on aggressive behavior. He said last year, “The women in Times Square, or the furry creatures in Times Square, are engaged in a business. I believe that opens the door for us to enforce the way we would with any other business. As a human being and a parent, I don’t think it’s appropriate in the middle of one of the busiest squares in New York City that women should display themselves that way.”
The council has voted 42-1 for the bill while five members abstained. De Blasio is expected to sign the bill by the end of May.