The BART board will begin deliberations Thursday on whether they will change their policy on riders and station hangers-on asking for money.
We can probably all agree that we hate the paper slip-based napkin panhandling on BART; there is likely disagreement on whether we enjoy a musician or dancer doing their act on a moving BART train whilst hustling for tips, and we’ve probably all got a soft spot for buskers in the BART stations performing live tunes with their donation hat out. To us, these seem like different phenomena. But they’re all the same in the eyes of at least one BART director. And they could all be banned systemwide soon, as KCBS Radio reports that BART will contemplate a panhandling ban.
“What the panhandling ordinance would prohibit is people asking for money,” BART board director Debora Allen tells KPIX. “That would have to include the street performers that, or I should say the train performers who ask for money after they perform. But it also includes people like the women who walk around with infants in slings.”
The ban is still theoretical, and has not even been proposed to the board. But Allen says she will introduce it at this Thursday’s meeting. It has not escaped the Chronicle’s attention that the dragnet would also catch BART buskers like Tone Oliver, whom they profiled Sunday, and apparently makes up to $200 a day on the system.
There are panhandling laws on BART now, but they only prohibit “aggressive panhandling” and “loud music.” Those are totally subjective terms, making enforcement quite difficult. The rule could also face legal challenges, as many courts have ruled that panhandling is a protected form of free speech.
What if instead of “no panhandling” signs, we gave out temporary tattoos?— Janice Li (@JaniceForBART) August 18, 2019
Listen I think I’m onto something here https://t.co/PoETsUqRUr
Allen expects to introduce the anti-panhandling measure Thursday, the beginning of a long phase of debate and implementation that would produce a draft no earlier than October. She says that two of the other nine directors are already on board with her idea. Judging from the tweet above, though, board member Janice Li is not one of them.
Image: Gary Soup via Flickr