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Time to outlaw panhandling: Portland stops outside vendors but promotes begging?

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The panhandling epidemic in Portland is getting out of control and the city is more apt to promote it than to stop it. On December 3, Oregon Live reported on a story involving an 11-year old local girl who was selling mistletoe in front of the Skidmore Fountain at the Portland Saturday Market.

Due to city code, this young entrepreneur was told she was not allowed to sell her wares near the park but instead she would be allowed to ask strangers for money. Madison Root was not allowed to offer her mistletoe up as a reward for donation but just to ask people on the street for money. Others who frequent the park often complain of the panhandlers and the illegal street vendors who also spend time in the area.

Many who have followed the story Root are outraged that anyone would suggest to a young girl that she stop selling merchandise and just beg for the money instead because in Portland panhandling is legal. Madison's goal is to earn enough money to pay for braces. Many are worried about the message this sends to Portland-area youth.

The panhandling problem in Portland is turning epidemic. Everywhere you turn, someone is holding a sign or asking for change. A person cannot walk into the grocery store or even use an ATM machine anymore without someone approaching them.

For some, this brazen begging in the Pacific Northwest is an irritant and for others it is a huge safety concern. It is a worrisome feeling to be approached by a stranger in a parking lot or when trying to withdraw money from an outside ATM machine. The general public should be able to move about with a feeling of relative safety.

So when is enough going to be enough and what will it take for Portlanders to introduce legislation to make panhandling illegal in the area? It is pretty clear that Portland area voters have had enough and legislation of this sort is long overdue.

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