The Sioux Falls city council is set to take up an ordinance limiting panhandling Tuesday night.
Revisions to the city’s solicitation ordinance were proposed at the request of Police Chief Doug Barthel. The ordinance tightens up the city’s current ordinance and cracks down on aggressive panhandling, among other things.
“I'm originally from Oklahoma, but I've been hitchhiking for a few years, so I’m kind of from all over,” hitchhiker Elijah Nichols said as he held up a sign asking for money.
Nichols' corner office was at Interstate 29 and 41st Street in Sioux Falls Monday. Flanked by his two dogs, Nichols is trying to scrape enough cash together to check into a warm hotel room. His wife is currently hospitalized with a liver condition.
“I only have on jacket, and my dog is short-haired so she gets the jacket,” Nichols said. “Some people give you money. A lot of people give you dirty looks, especially police.”
Nichols had no idea that a plan to limit panhandling was headed to the Sioux Falls City Council's desk on the same day he was asking for money.
“I've seen people over at the Walmart and the mall exit and a couple people told me about the next exit down,” he said.
It comes at the request of Sioux Falls Police. The ordinance would not allow panhandlers to solicit aggressively in public. It would also require that anyone asking for money on private property get permission from the property owner. But one of the biggest changes is that solicitors cannot ask for money from vehicles in traffic.
Nichols believes in some of those restrictions, especially those limiting aggressive panhandlers. He also believes in a city’s right to regulate. But not all of them will work favorably on him.
“That type of panhandling shouldn't be allowed, but honestly, I don't believe what I'm doing is actually hurting anybody or anything like that, which I think is more the point,” Nichols said.