CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WVEC) -- On Tuesday night, Chesapeake City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that targets panhandling.
According to the new ordinance, “no person shall stand, sit, squat or lie in between motor vehicle traffic lanes on any public right of way, whether or not there is a raised median or other barrier between any such lanes.”
In short, it will be illegal for anyone to stand in between traffic lanes and in the right of way.
Chesapeake Chief of Police K.L. Wright said “traffic and people don’t mix” and panhandling is a public safety issue.
“Of course as a driver, a motorist, are you expecting someone to perhaps walk out into traffic?” said Wright. “And of course, it’s just not safe for someone to stand in the median strip just to beg.”
Panhandler Jeff Lewis said he has no choice but to panhandle after he claimed multiple surgeries lost him his construction job.
“Sometimes I make enough to stay in the cheap hotel down the street, sometimes I make enough to get food for the week, give my friends a little money to let me stay on their couch,” said Lewis.
The City of Chesapeake is trying to lower the chance of accidents between pedestrians and cars. In the last two years, there were 65 reported crashes, seven of them were fatal.
“As far as the laws, I mean they’re just making it hard on – there’s a lot of people out here that are disabled that don’t have any options,” said Lewis. “It sucks to be out here, it’s embarrassing I mean but, I’m just doing what I got to do.”
The new ordinance will go into effect in 30 days.