In an attempt to make the roads ‘safer’ St. Peters mulling bill that effectively bans panhandling near streets

Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 10:21 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The City of St. Peters is considering a pedestrian safety bill that would effectively ban panhandlers from asking for money from drivers.

The bill will likely be voted on Thursday night at a St. Peters Board of Aldermen meeting.

It would prevent people from being in the street and disrupting traffic, and it prohibits individuals from touching a vehicle or person inside the vehicle.

“I’ve already complained a couple of times about it,” said St. Peters resident Robert Worlitz.

Worlitz said he’s consistently seen adults with small children getting too close to traffic.

“You got kids out here and they look like they’re about eight years old and they’re close to the side of the road,” said Worlitz.

But when he called the city, “I was told that there is really nothing they can do,” said Worlitz. Now, the city of St. Peters may do something about it.

“Really about safety and the safety of those not only driving but pedestrians including children who really don’t have a choice to be there,” said City Attorney Jon Young.

Young said this ordinance doesn’t target the homeless and it came after concerns from residents.

But some say targeted or not, the law hurts homeless people.

“I would have never thought in a million years that people out here would be homeless,” said Drew Falvey with Lifeline Aid Group.

Falvey and Syd Hajicek with Lifeline Aid Group, an organization that supports the homeless population, were surprised that St. Peters even has much of a homeless population.

But said there is a reason they’re asking for money.

“If they don’t have resources then that is why they’re going and panhandling and so when you start seeing people panhandling in your region, it means they actually need resources” said Hajicek.

Both say, if city officials were worried about children on the roads they could amend the bill to ban kids from doing so.

“When we criminalize homelessness, you’re basically creating a problem, it’s a cycle that is continued repeatedly and repeatedly,” said Falvey.

As for Worlitz, he hopes the ordinance gets a ‘yes’ vote Thursday.

“I spent a lot of money on my house 25 years ago, and I don’t want it degraded by my city being run down by panhandling,” said Worlitz.