Loves Park bans pedestrians from loitering on medians, and some people are not happy

Local News

LOVES PARK, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford is not the only local community looking to make some changes to its streets, as the City of Loves Park wants to keep people from loitering on medians and crosswalks.

The new “Pedestrian Safety Ordinance” was passed last week, but some said that it is unconstitutional and targets panhandlers.

Gino Gulluzzo, an attorney from AGHL Law that is representing the city, said that it is all about safety, and that it has nothing to do with panhandling. Instead, he said that It is a direct result of safety concerns, referencing several pedestrian involved crashes in Loves Park.

Nine crashes involving pedestrians, and one fatality, is prompting the City of Loves Park to take action, prohibiting people from standing on medians or in the street.

“This ordinance is a direct result of calls and issues people have had with near misses, potential accidents in our public roadways,” Gulluzzo said.

It is strictly about keeping people safe, according to Gulluzzo.

“Obviously when we have nine accidents and one fatality, that’s pretty important,” Gulluzzo said. “We don’t want that to get worse, we don’t want more people injured.”

The new rule does not mention panhandling, but it would effectively prohibit anyone walking the medians or in the roads asking for money.

“Where I have seen this kind of ordinance before is in the context in regulation of panhandling,” said Rebecca Glenberg, Senior Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

Glenberg said that since courts made panhandling legal, some cities are trying to find ways around, to limit panhandling.

“They sometimes instead enact ordinances like this one, where it says something much broader, like you just can’t stand in the median, or you just can’t interact with a vehicle,” Glenberg said.

However, Gulluzzo said that is not their intention.

“We don’t have a problem with panhandling,” Gulluzzo said. “People can continue to panhandle in the right of ways, like behind the curb, obviously outside the streets. They can go to near private entrances if they want, in the public and continue panhandling, they just can’t be in the streets.”

The motivation is reportedly purely for public safety.

“As a municipality we have to protect the public, we have to protect traffic safety, and this is what this is for,” Gulluzzo said. Panhandlers can still panhandle, they just have to do so in a way that doesn’t violate this ordinance.”

The ordinance, which was passed last week, is in effect. Gulluzzo said that it is for everyone, and that no one will be able to walk in the streets or medians, including non-profits and other charities.

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