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Tempe cracking down on aggressive panhandlers

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Panhandlers bothering people outside of convenience stores, malls, supermarkets are a growing problem across the Valley.

Many of them are truly in need, but others are far more aggressive and Tempe is putting teeth into its ordinance to prevent the aggressive ones from hassling people.

Nikki Ripley with the City of Tempe said panhandlers could spend six months in jail and pay a $2,500 fine if they're caught breaking the law, the highest level of misdemeanor offenses.

"It will preserve the rights of everyone who lives here and comes here for events. We don't want people to be impeded by the behavior of some of the panhandlers."

Starting in 30 days, panhandlers will not be allowed to bother customers within 15 feet of ATMs, banks, bus stops, light rail and taxi stops and they won't be allowed to panhandle within 10 feet of businesses or block entrances at businesses.

It's unknown if any other Valley cities will follow Tempe's lead and toughen up laws against panhandlers.

The Arizona Court of Appeals struck down a Phoenix law against nighttime panhandling in 2011 saying that cities can't bar people from simply asking passers-by for money at night.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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