Charleston mayor John Tecklenburg meets King Street business owners to discuss panhandling

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It's currently legal to panhandle in Charleston with certain stipulations, but that doesn't mean business owners on King Street aren't upset about the presence of those who ask for money on the city's sidewalks.

Charleston mayor John Tecklenburg met with those business owners Thursday morning to explain the city's panhandling laws and further discuss the issue.

"It does scare away quite a bit of business," Beech employee John Simmert said. "And especially those later at night, and those later at night and the messes we have to clean up in the morning affects out bottom line and food costs start going up things like that to help cover the cost."

The current city statute states that panhandlers are free to sit on the sidewalk as long as they do not "obstruct or otherwise inhibit the free, safe and efficient flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic on any public rights-of-way or public property."

the Mayor and city leaders are currently working on ways to enforce current ordinances that help business owners and protect the rights of those panhandling.

The change comes because of a court case the city had a few years ago, which removed the ban on panhandling. They want to keep pan handling and peddling separate.

Some workers don't see it as an issue.

"If one comes in the store people appreciate the fact that we are willing to help these folks out," King Street employee Todd Mason said. "I think it goes a long way and shows we have empathy and it adds character to our city."

Any owner who's upset about panhandlers entering the business can also put up a "no trespassing" sign, which makes it unlawful to solicit on the property, but it currently doesn't address panhandlers on sidewalks or outside businesses.

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