Panhandlers Pushed Further Out of Downtown Miami

Commissioner: "Something has to be done to protect the citizens."

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    Brother can you spare a dime? Thanks to a commission vote Thursday, not within a13.14 mile radius Downtown.

    The unanimous vote, which doubled the size of the no-panhandle zone around the American Airlines arena and the Arsht Center, was a victory for the Downtown Development Authority, which argued that the ban would help keep visitors during Heat games and other events coming back.

    "This is the very beginning of taking back the streets of Miami,'' Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff told the Herald, whose district includes downtown. ``If you want to build Miami, it starts at the very core of Miami.''

    Homeless advocates, however, disagreed, saying that making panhandling illegal turns many homeless into criminals.

    "Criminalization of those who are homeless and on the streets only creates more obstacles for employment, for housing,'' Rita Clark, policy director for the Miami Coalition for the Homeless, told the Herald.

    A similar ordinance was shot down earlier this week in Oakland Park after homeless advocates voiced their displeasure at the ordinance they claimed would be "inhuman."