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Panhandling problems on the West Side

Published On: Nov 12 2012 04:44:39 PM CST

Some business owners on the west side of Colorado Springs fear a new panhandling ordinance downtown will bring unwanted guests to their neighborhood.

City Council will vote Tuesday on a no-solicitation ordinance. The proposed zone is bordered by Boulder Street on the north, Nevada Avenue on the east, Cucharras Street on the south and Cascade Avenue on the west.

Linda Schlarb, owner of Old Town Propane on Colorado Avenue, said panhandling has been a problem the past couple of years and it's only getting worse. She fears the new ordinance will drive downtown panhandlers to the west side.

"When you start scaring customers away, then we all suffer," said Schlarb.

Schlarb said she and other business owners have reached out to City Council for help, asking for an ordinance on the westside, but have been told no.

"The reason they can't do more areas is because they know it's going to be sued by ACLU due to freedom of speech," said Schlarb.

She said other cities have enacted similar ordinances and won lawsuits against the American Civil Liberties Union. She said she is at a loss and needs the city to step up.

"We've been told what you can't do. We just want to now what you can do," said Schlarb.

For now, she and other business owners have posted signs asking people not to give panhandlers money.

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