Grass Valley City Council OKs amendment regulating solicitation and panhandling activities |

Grass Valley City Council OKs amendment regulating solicitation and panhandling activities

In a move to impose restrictions on aggressive panhandling while also protecting the right to free expression, the Grass Valley City Council adopted a new ordinance proposed by the Grass Valley Police Department that uses a context-neutral approach to regulate solicitation and panhandling activities in the city.

The ordinance, which was approved by a vote of 4-0 during a city council meeting on Tuesday night, should not be interpreted as a stricter enforcement on solicitation and panhandling, but rather as an amendment to the existing ordinance so it is consistent with the current federal and state legislation and court decisions, said Grass Valley Police Lt. Alex Gammelgard,

“The purpose is to regulate solicitation in the city to protect peace and tranquility of city residents,” said Gammelgard. “To safeguard our citizens from fraud and criminal behavior, while ensuring the protection of free expressions and expressive activities.”

Under the new ordinance, it’s unlawful for anyone to block the public passage of residents in order to ask for financial help, distribute goods, or sell services, whether for charitable or commercial purposes.

A solicitor will be violating the ordinance if he or she touches members of the public without their approval.

Soliciting is forbidden at a house or apartment displaying a “No Solicitation” or other signs that express the occupants’ desire not to be disturbed.

A person or an organization is also required to obtain a permit from the city manager before engaging in solicitation.

Anyone who violates the above regulation is considered to be breaking the law whether he or she is selling Girl Scout cookies, is asking for donations on behalf of a nonprofit, or is a homeless individual requesting financial assistance, said City Attorney Michael Colantuono.

Ehud “Ed” Gat, a security officer for a grocery store in downtown Grass Valley, spoke during the meeting to support the ordinance.

“I think our police officers are amazing, I would like to give them the tools to stop activities that are not welcomed or are disturbing the peace,” said Gat.

The salary increase for Grass Valley Career Firefighters, IAFF Local 3800, Unit 8, which was originally on the agenda, was moved to the next council meeting. The motion happened due to a need to smooth out some contractual language, said Vice Mayor Howard Levine.

To contact Staff Writer Teresa Yinmeng Liu, call 530-477-4236 or email

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