Fayette County

Panhandling and pedestrian ordinance advances in Lexington council

'I’m not greedy,' says man panhandling on Limestone

Johnny Adams, who says his wrist injury keeps him from working, often holds a sign on busy streets in Lexington to collect money given to him by passing motorists. “If I get $10 to $15, I’m happy. I put my sign away for the rest of the day. I’m no
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Johnny Adams, who says his wrist injury keeps him from working, often holds a sign on busy streets in Lexington to collect money given to him by passing motorists. “If I get $10 to $15, I’m happy. I put my sign away for the rest of the day. I’m no

The Lexington council voted Tuesday to move forward with an ordinance that would prohibit panhandlers and pedestrians from approaching cars at major intersections.

The Urban County Council voted to put the Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Ordinance on the council’s agenda. The ordinance will get its first reading at Thursday’s council meeting. A final vote is likely May 25. The ordinance takes effect 60 days after passage. Vice Mayor Steve Kay was the only council member to vote against moving the ordinance forward. Kay said he felt the ordinance should go back to committee for further discussion.

Those who violate the proposed ordinance will face a $100 fine.

The Urban County Council General Government and Social Services Committee voted 7-0 on May 2 to pass the ordinance, which prohibits people from being in roadways and medians and bans pedestrians from approaching cars on 75 major Lexington streets and intersections. The Pedestrian and Traffic Safety ordinance will replace one that was struck down by the state Supreme Court in February. That ruling said the city’s prohibition on begging on public streets ran afoul of the First Amendment, which protects free speech.

A provision that would tighten the city’s jaywalking ordinance — making it clear that people can only cross streets at crosswalks and signaled intersections —will only apply to the 75 major streets that are listed in the Pedestrian and Traffic Safety ordinance. That change was made after concerns were raised during the May 2 committee meeting that people crossing neighborhood streets would be cited for jaywalking.

Keith Horn, a lawyer for the city, said under the amended ordinance the more strict jaywalking ordinance would apply only to those 75 streets. Those streets include Richmond, Versailles, Winchester, Nicholasville, Harrodsburg and Tates Creek roads and other major downtown streets.

Also on Tuesday, the council voted unanimously to move changes to the city’s vicious dog ordinance to the full council. The ordinance would allow animal control officers to temporarily quarantine dogs after vicious attacks, among other changes.

That ordinance will also get its first reading Thursday. A final vote is likely at the May 25 meeting.

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall

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