Lufkin City Council considering ordinance to ban panhandlers

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Panhandlers looking for handouts may seem harmless enough.

But the City of Lufkin says they're making major intersections dangerous for themselves and drivers.

"We've had individuals who've actually run red lights trying to get away from solicitors," said Paul Parker, Lufkin City Manager.

Tuesday night, the city council heard the first reading of an ordinance that would ban panhandlers from soliciting on city roadways.

"Lufkin is known as a giving community, which is great for the city for us as Lufkinites. At the same time it creates a traffic problem," said Parker.

Dowell Evans has paced this intersection in south Lufkin for nearly five months. Not long ago, he told us he's asking for help after falling victim to identity theft.

"I stay out here long enough to get my room rent and get a little bit to eat on. And that's basically my day," said Evans.

City manager Paul Parker says the ordinance wouldn't eliminate solicitation altogether.

"Softball, baseball teams, church leagues many different things classify as solicitors," said Parker.

Or someone like Phillip Daniel.

He makes a living by advertising a furniture store to oncoming traffic.

"They pay me an hourly wage to come out here and hold the sign and try to get the driver's attention," said Daniel.

He's seen the lengths a panhandler will go to make some money.

"Sometimes it can be a problem, someone trying to run through traffic to get money from a car three lanes over," said Daniel.

If the new law is adopted, people like Evans will have to go elsewhere to find his next meal.

City Manager Paul Parker says panhandlers do have other options, like services provided by the Salvation Army, God-Tel, CISC and area churches.

Lufkin City Council will vote on the ordinance at their next meeting in two weeks.

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