Residents see effects of panhandling ordinance

Panhandling has been banned in Daytona Beach for just one day, but the city is already seeing huge results.

In an area business owners say is normally covered with panhandlers, especially on a Friday night, it’s now delightful, they say, with the new panhandling ordinance in effect. Those who live and work here hope it stays this way, but some say it could be even better.

Who needs the 10 Year Challenge when so much can change in just one day? Daytona Beach Police posted a side-by-side photograph on their Facebook page, showing the same corner near Popeyes, before and after Daytona Beach’s panhandling ordinance took effect.

“It has been like a whole different world,” said Jungle George’s owner George St. Pierre.

The new ordinance bans panhandlers from certain places or else they face a $200 fine or arrest.

George St. Pierre owns a business near the boardwalk. He says he lost 20 percent of his business in the last year, due to panhandlers. But on his drive to work Friday morning?

“I didn't see one single person on any of the major roads with a sign, asking for money or 'will work for food,' and it was very pleasant. It was such a relief.”

Street corners are empty in the tourist area, but those who live here say there are still some pockets of panhandlers further into the city.

“I’ve seen them everywhere, street corners, the bridge, pretty much any place that they've been I've still seen them,” said Angela Bennardo, of Daytona Beach.

“Yeah, they're just a little slicker. I mean they move their little camps,” said Jairo Gallego.

Residents are interested in seeing how things continue in the next few weeks, but they are hopeful this is the start of a huge Daytona Beach makeover.

“I really think Daytona Beach can make a turn for the better,” said Kayla Williams.

Business owners hope the word gets out that things have been cleaned up, so business returns to Daytona Beach.