Skagit Valley city says keep the cardboard, not the change
In Mount Vernon, you can fly a sign asking for help, but taking that help is now against the law.
The Mount Vernon City Council has banned roadside panhandling near the freeway and on major roads in the city about an hour north of Seattle.
The law, which goes into effect this month, prohibits pedestrians from approaching and exchanging anything with drivers. They can hold a sign asking for help; they just can’t take any help offered.
Violators could get a $500 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
The Skagit County city passed the law in response to complaints from residents about public safety.
It prevents anyone on foot from engaging with cars, including firefighters who collect donations from drivers for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
City officials said the law was prompted by a concern for public safety, but Housing Authority of Skagit County Executive Director Gus Ramos sees it differently.
“It essentially makes it a crime to be homeless and to try to live,” said Ramos, who is also the president of the Mount Vernon Downtown Association. “They are attacking the symptom and not dealing with the disease.”
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