News Headlines

Cathedral City working to stiffen panhandling laws

Beggers would be banned from properties where signs are posted

Cathedral City is cracking down on solicitors and beggars.

CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - We met Seth Nelson and his brother Ryan in Cathedral City. Since the day they were born, the twins have always been a team. You can find them six days a week, from dusk until dawn, working an intersection off of East Palm Canyon Drive.

"I'm trying to earn a couple of bucks for food to try and stay off the streets," said Nelson.

In fact, they rake in about $30 a day and receive the occasional mercy or "homeless kit." They're not trying to harass anyone, just kill them with kindness.

With familiar faces like the homeless duo and aggressive solicitors lingering around local businesses, the city says it's time to step up its soliciting laws.

On Wednesday, city council members voted to continue working on a proposed law that would force solicitors to stay 30 feet away from banks and businesses, instead of 15 feet stated in the current law.

"Every city is challenged with homeless people doing that type of the thing. There's specific organizations that are not legitimate and are taking advantage," said City Council member Sam Toles.

"Retailers are trying to produce an image. It tarnishes it a bit," said Kimberly Terrazas.

Solicitors would not be allowed on the property of those with "no solicitation" signs posted.

It would also mean first-come first served. Only one solicitor would be allowed to set up per business.

Terrazas asked, "How do you regulate that though?"

The city says it plans to rely on a joint effort between police officers and business owners.

"(It will) Give them the tool to say, 'You're not allowed to be in front of our door. You have to be a certain number feet away,'" said Toles.

"I'll respect them and I'll leave. I'll come back and try to work my way in there," said Nelson.

Be careful. The law would also raise the penalty from an infraction to a misdemeanor fine of $100 to $1,000. A fine the twins say they can't afford, but they'll continue to do what they have to.

"I don't try to ruin their business, just asking for a little help," said Nelson.

There will be a second reading on the proposed law at the next city council meeting.

Another key focus of the proposed law is to ensure local charities get the opportunity to earn donations on public grounds rather than those who come in from out of town, and take donations from Cathedral City neighbors. None of that money comes back to benefit, for example, Valley little leagues, veterans or schools.

comments powered by Disqus

Photo Galleries