Downtown Durango businesses, concerned residents weigh in on panhandling

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Downtown Durango businesses, concerned residents weigh in on panhandling

No smoking, more police suggested
“I like to make people smile, so I try to write something that will do that,” said Jenny Jordan while she and John Wright sit on the Main Avenue sidewalk in downtown Durango. “Usually, I put my hat down and play my guitar, but it recently broke, so here I am with a sign.”
La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith addresses the crowd at a meeting focused on panhandling at the Durango Public Library. Smith urged the crowd to think about a comprehensive approach to the problem. The meeting was hosted by three business groups.

Downtown Durango businesses, concerned residents weigh in on panhandling

“I like to make people smile, so I try to write something that will do that,” said Jenny Jordan while she and John Wright sit on the Main Avenue sidewalk in downtown Durango. “Usually, I put my hat down and play my guitar, but it recently broke, so here I am with a sign.”
La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith addresses the crowd at a meeting focused on panhandling at the Durango Public Library. Smith urged the crowd to think about a comprehensive approach to the problem. The meeting was hosted by three business groups.
Strategies for business owners

The Business Improvement District presented strategies that businesses can immediately implement to combat the perceived problems that panhandlers create:
Report violations you witness to police, work with police when they arrive and go to court if necessary; Participate in the Make it Count campaign by getting a donation box. The campaign encourages people to give to charity rather than panhandlers;Apply to have bistro tables on the sidewalk, install flower boxes or make outdoor areas around your business less welcoming to panhandlers. For example, business owners can add rocks atop low walls. Ask the Business Improvement District for “no smoking,” “no trespassing” or “no leaning on window” signs.

Dealing with panhandling

Business Improvement District Executive Director Tim Walsworth presented nine ideas:
Increase downtown lightingIncrease police patrols year-roundForm law enforcement homeless outreach team Hire private security Refine city ordinance for easier enforcement Strictly enforce existing lawsMake downtown a no-smoking zone Hire street performersIncrease ambassador program to welcome and guide visitors

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