Business

Boycott announced over panhandling ordinance

April 21, 2017

Opponents of City of Pensacola’s anti-panhandling ordinance launched a Facebook event page for a six-week boycott of a 11 downtown Pensacola businesses, two others located on Cervantes and the Downtown YMCA.

According to organizers, the businesses are those that have vocally supported the anti-panhandling ordinance that created the “Downtown Visitors District” and prohibits asking for money or donations and unlicensed street performers in that area, which is primarily South Palafox Street.

The second reading and final passage of the ordinance is scheduled for the council’s May regular meeting.

As of this morning over 200 people have signed up to participate in the boycott on the Facebook page. They have pledged to not shop or use the boycotted businesses until the end of May.

The boycott list includes:

• Beef O’ Brady’s
• New World Landing
• The Vinyl Music Hall
• Hopjacks Pizza Kitchen
• Skopelos
• Downtown YMCA
• The Tin Cow
• The Bodacious Olive and Bodacious Brew
• Pot Roast and Pinot
• O’Riley’s Irish Pub
• Carmen’s
• The Azalea

Why these places? According to the Facebook page:”These businesses have prioritized marginal (and hypothetical) financial gains over the dignity and well-being of the needy. The hypocrisy and prejudice with which they spend resources to cultivate an *image* of success and community, yet hide the material, everyday reality of poverty through intimidation legislation can no longer be tolerated.”

Organizers say that they are currently in talks with anonymous business owners and philanthropists who are considering matching the number of boycott participants with donations to Food Not Bombs and Sean’s Outpost.

They have published a memo detailing how the businesses can removed from the boycott:

****MEMO TO BUSINESSES WHO WOULD LIKE TO BE TAKEN OFF THE BOYCOTT LIST****
Part of the point of the boycott is to get you off the boycott list! This can be done by releasing a public statement to the Pensacola press with evidence of your business’s material support for the homeless population AND a denunciation of the anti-panhandling ordinance.
Here are some other ideas, if you’ve truly had a change of heart:
– Have weekly specials that fund donations for housing projects and soup kitchens
– Have free soup-of-the-day bowls (or any dish!) available to the poor or folks who will distribute them
– Open your restrooms to the public and provide free water to the public
– Lobby for a percentage of DIB taxes and dues to be earmarked for direct services for the homeless population
– Lobby for public restrooms downtown
– Have information on local shelters and soup kitchens available
– Educate your employees on how to interact compassionately with homeless individuals near your business

For people who work in the boycotted businesses, the organizers are encouraging them to find a new job and join the strike.

“We are discussing ways to create a support system for service workers with the courage to withhold their labor from unethical business owners. Of course, we sympathize with those who do not have the privilege to risk their paychecks.”

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8 Comments

  • Reply Anonyomous April 21, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Prefer to be anonymous …. if a business has a license to use the side walk that is granted by the city…. does that not make that side walk no longer public…. yes it is now part of the business and the owners have every right to have a panhandler removed from the location. PPD needs to start enforceing the businesses right to have said panhandlers remover from their license to use sidewalk. Once the panhandler move to the adjacent sidewalks and asked for money again now he is being adhressive and can be cited by the already in place ordinance. I have the right to eat and have a drink in peace and not have someone beg 3 or 4 times in the same night for some cash. They give you the same story month after month… they don’t want help most of them don’t want food they want a beer or a smoke. I am a frequent flyer downtown and I am tired of being panhandler numerous time a night. Y the same people over and over again it needs to stop somehow. Begging for money is not a right it is a life style. And more often then not it is a choice. I am not saying there is not people out there that truest need help I think there is but the ones downtown are life long panhandlers.

  • Reply Barnabi Guernsey April 21, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    RE: YMCA

    The Downtown Improvement Board (who lobbied for the ordinance) is also a non-profit, yet many of the board members are paid and the director is paid $100,000 annually. Non-profit doesn’t mean that no one makes money off of the institution. It seems this is only the downtown YMCA, not all YMCAs, and is included because it is in the Studer group, which apparently lobbied for the ordinance. I love the YMCA and think community centers are vital for many areas. But, in this case, I think pouring millions of dollars into a YMCA downtown, instead of in the areas that actual need social services, is part of the problem, and shows how the city is too narrowly focused on its own spectacle.

    RE: CJ
    I saw someone heckling the busker protesters shouting “enforce current code! enforce current code!” So, someone knows! But the ethics of the law is still in question, whether or not it’s on the books already.

    • Reply Patrick April 21, 2017 at 6:53 pm

      DIB board members are not paid. Do a little homework before you write stuff like that.

  • Reply Bruce Partington April 21, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    The YMCA is not a business. It’s a non-profit that has, for many decades, provided substantial services to the less fortunate of our community of all ages, ranging from showers to swimming lessons, child care to youth athletics. How could the Y possibly be on this list?

    • Reply Barnabi Guernsey April 21, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      The Downtown Improvement Board (who lobbied for the ordinance) is also a non-profit, yet many of the board members are paid and the director is paid $100,000 annually. Non-profit doesn’t mean that no one makes money off of the institution. It seems this is only the downtown YMCA, not all YMCAs, and is included because it is in the Studer group, which apparently lobbied for the ordinance. I love the YMCA and think community centers are vital for many areas. But, in this case, I think pouring millions of dollars into a YMCA downtown, instead of in the areas that actual need social services, is part of the problem, and shows how the city is too narrowly focused on its own spectacle.

    • Reply Liz Watkins April 21, 2017 at 10:25 pm

      Mr. Partington,

      The Y stopped allowing homeless to pay for showers in 2015.

  • Reply CJ Lewis April 21, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I believe that people would be surprised if they saw a map that marked those parts of the city’s Urban Core Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) – the real “Downtown Pensacola” – where panhandling is already prohibited by the existing law Section 8-1-25 Panhandling that few seem aware of an is not being challenged. Many of the places listed above for boycott are already within one of the 500 foot radius arcs from one of 13 intersections, areas where panhandling is prohibited. The Azalea (Azalea Cocktail Lounge) is north of the Urban Core CRA and so not considered to be in one of these areas. Section 8-1-25 imposes a lot of other restrictions to include prohibiting panhandling within 20 feet of an ATM machine, an incentive for a restaurant to put in an ATM at its entrance, and at bus stops presumably to include when no one is waiting to catch a bus. [The city’s GIS (Geographic Information Systems) staff, or UWF’s GIS program, could probably come up with an app that would help define the No Panhandling zones.] If downtown business owners knew that panhandling is already prohibited in front of their stores and restaurants, they might call 911 to have the existing law enforced. If the existing law were actively enforced, it would become clear that we do not need another law.

    • Reply The Great and Powerful Red April 22, 2017 at 11:07 am

      The Azalea is on the list because it was purchased by councilman Johnson, and he voted in favor of the ordinance.

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