ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – After a recent increase in panhandlers, several cities in St. Louis county have adjusted their rules to curb begging in the streets.
The following cities that adjusted their rules are Brentwood, Chesterfield, Des Peres, Ellisville, and Manchester.
Following a lawsuit in 2021, which gave panhandlers more rights on the road, drivers around St. Louis county have seen a rise in people asking for money.
“It makes you feel like you almost have to donate but there’s so many of them,” said Dennis Narsh.
One panhandler Robert Fernandez has been cited several times in Des Peres.
“He is a frequent flyer currently at Manchester and 270 and he’s been issued five citations,” said Douglas Harms, City of Des Peres city administrator. “It’s our opinion that he is trying to get arrested as the basis for filing another lawsuit similar to the one he had in St. Louis county and we’re not going to take that bait.”
Des Peres city officials changed part of their ordinance to make it clear that anyone soliciting has to be on the sidewalk or be cited which includes charities.
“Once they know what the rules are,” Harms said. “They move on.”
The City of Manchester adjusted its ordinance to having panhandlers move to the sidewalk. The mayor said it’s dangerous for them to be in the streets.
“In the traffic lanes, weaving in and out, sometimes the moms are carrying children and that’s obviously very unsafe,” said Mike Clement, Mayor for the City of Manchester.
Clement said he have not seen any panhandlers in Manchester since the new rule.
“They did leave, I don’t know whether it’s a permanent or long-term leaving but at least they are not here now,” he said.
A city manager for the City of Ellisville released the following statement on its changed ordinance.
“With increased enforcement with the ordinance in place, those soliciting are in a safer environment since they’re no longer allowed to be in the center median.”
FOX 2 reached out to several homeless advocates such as St. Patrick’s Center for comment but we have not received a response.