Everett City Council passes ordinance to curb 'aggressive panhandling'

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — The Everett City Council has passed an ordinance to curb aggressive panhandling, drawing criticism from advocates for the homelessness and civil rights.

The Daily Herald reports that the council voted 4-2 Wednesday to make aggressive panhandling a misdemeanor punishable by jail or a fine. Aggressive panhandling is defined as begging in a way that is meant to make someone feel threatened.

On Tuesday, the America Civil Liberties Union of Washington and Seattle University's Homeless Rights Advocates Project sent Mayor Ray Stephanson and the council letters asking them to reject the ordinance. Both organizations called the new law unconstitutional and unnecessarily punitive.

The ordinance will take effect 15 days after Stephanson signs it, after amendments encouraging social services over arrests for panhandlers.