Christiansburg considering new solicitation ordinance

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Aggressive solicitation is not a major problem along area roadways, but Christiansburg leaders are considering a new ordinance that could enforce any future incidents.


On Tuesday night, council heard comments from its town attorney and police chief on why it’s not currently enforceable.

Attorney Theresa Fontana said there is a provision in the town code, but as written, it just isn’t enforceable.

“Like many other ordinances in Christiansburg, this one is outdated and needs to be updated,” she said.

The definition of “aggressive solicitation” is simple and is considered any transaction that takes place within the town’s roadway.

Fontana pointed out those transactions in which items are exchanged between pedestrians and operators of motor vehicles is dangerous, distracting to both pedestrian and motorists, threatens nearby third parties and interferes with the free flow of traffic.

While Police Chief Mark Sisson said there have not been any major problems, he believes his officers need an ordinance that they can enforce.

Panhandling does come under the new ordinance, but it is not limited to just those begging for money on the side of the street. The town currently does not have an ordinance that disallows panhandling itself.

Panhandling does come under the new ordinance, but it is not limited to just those begging for money on the side of the street. The town currently does not have an ordinance that disallows panhandling itself.

Sisson said some panhandlers in the past have stepped off the curb to get money from a motorist who has rolled their windows down.

“Once they do that, then they would be breaking the law under the new ordinance,” he said.

In addition, the motorist who rolled their windows down and give the individual money or converse in conversation can also be charged.

Last fall, money was solicited by bucket in traffic at the intersection of the Spradlin Farms shopping center. A non-profit group was collecting donations for hurricane victims in the southeast, and did step off the sidewalk to hold buckets in front of cars as they sat waiting for the light to change.

Under the new ordinance, this would not be allowed in Christiansburg. It also affects anyone handing out literature in the case of political campaigns or other information provided by groups such as non-profits or others.

A prime example is the firefighter boot collection effort. Again, that would not be allowed under the new ordinance.

Any pedestrian or operator of a motor vehicle found in violation of this ordinance would be guilty of a traffic infraction.

There would be some exceptions under the new ordinance as the motorists and the individual could exchange items on private property or within a nearby parking lot.

Council asked staff to examine the draft ordinance and make some definition changes, and then bringing it back to the group in March for both public comment and final vote on the measure.

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