Spokane's new panhandling ordinance took effect Saturday, and believe it or not it seems to be working - at least in the downtown area.
The new regulations ban curbside panhandling in the area south of Boone Avenue, west of Hamilton Street, north of Seventh Avenue, east of the Maple-Ash corridor and at all the Interstate 90 on and off ramps.
There are some freedom of speech issues, so it is still very legal for someone to fly their sign and ask for your help. What you can't do is reach beyond the curb and accept a donation from one of Spokane's generous drivers.
Saturday there were a lot fewer people panhandling, KXLY looked for them at Interstate 90 off ramps. We even checked the busy spot where Walnut runs off the South Hill, but could find nary a sign of panhandling.
Christy Mchatton manages the Moxie hair salon, where up until now customers have a ringside seat to the problems associated with panhandling.
"I'm really glad, it's about time something needs to be done," she said. "Just urination, public intoxication. you know they come into the salon and bother our clients. We just don't need that."
And those are just some of the reasons why the city council passed the new ordinance.
Next week when there are more people on duty, the Spokane Police Department plans to take all of its neighborhood resource officers, have them walk through the downtown area, visit with the panhandlers in their hang outs and make sure they're aware of the new ordinance.