LEWISTON — A rewritten panhandling ordinance makes a clearer distinction about what can happen on city streets and what can happen on sidewalks.

Councilors approved a draft of an ordinance on first reading on Sept. 3, designed to crack down on aggressive panhandlers as well as those blocking traffic.

On Tuesday, they reviewed a new version that makes it simpler and easier to understand. Councilors could vote on the ordinance a second and final time at their next meeting.

Portland’s City Council approved an ordinance in July that bans loitering on street medians, effectively banning people from begging for change from cars stopped at traffic lights.

But Lewiston has a bigger problem with aggressive panhandlers, police Chief Michael Bussiere told councilors in August.

The proposed ordinance targets anybody blocking traffic or pedestrians while soliciting for money, work, business or sales. It targets people soliciting on the road, including the shoulders or blocking driveways.

It also targets people blocking a driver’s line of sight, following or harassing people or blocking someone from getting into a car or a building.

People convicted of aggressive begging — blocking a person who declines to give the panhandler money, food or cigarettes, using profanity or following them — face fines as well. Fines would start at $100 for the first conviction and increase by $100 for succeeding one. Fines would top out at $400 each for four or more convictions.


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