Port Orange says don't give to panhandlers

Drivers in Port Orange have noticed new street signs posted along the busy Dunlawton Avenue.

These signs were not erected to enforce a traffic law,  but rather, it's a suggestion for drivers to not give to panhandlers at road side.  Instead, it encourages them to donate to a local charity.

A city representative said Friday that they have placed 25 of the signs at popular panhandling locations throughout town. 

“The idea behind the signs is to educate our public so as to not give directly to the panhandlers. It is our belief that if our citizens don’t contribute directly to the individual panhandlers, those panhandlers will stop asking for donations,” Port Orange Police Chief Tom Grimaldi said in a news release.

The chief went on to encourage residents to donate to organizations like the United Way and the Salvation Army who can better assist those in need.

Panhandling has been an on-going issue for Volusia County with several members of local law enforcement saying it’s often not the homeless asking for money, but others looking for hand-outs.

The issue got so bad in neighboring Daytona Beach that the city commission passed an ordinance in February that restricted areas in town where panhandling is allowed. Since that ordinance, there are reports that many once crowded street corners are usually clear these days.

However, that ordinance may have had a hand in Port Orange’s woes.

Chief Grimaldi said in an email Friday that the city has seen an increase in panhandling since the Daytona ordinance took effect.

However, with the new signs in place most of the once busy corners in town were empty Friday afternoon.

Residents the News Station spoke to approved of the message the signs put forth and were glad to see progress on the panhandling issues in town.

Calls to the local homelessness coalition to get their feelings on the move were not returned as of publication.

The city says the 25 signs cost about $1000 and came out of their Department of Public Works sign account.