Concrete barriers erected in American Fork to deter panhandlers


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  • goodnight-goodluck S.L.C., UT
    May 10, 2013 8:35 a.m.

    Probably save some lives by placing that pony wall on the island. Panhandling has been deemed free speech and that's fine but in the middle of a busy street. Only a matter of time till one stumbled and ended up run over.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    May 8, 2013 6:33 a.m.

    Hypocrisy has no bounds apparently.

  • billster36 Nies, MI
    May 7, 2013 9:14 p.m.

    Panhandling must pay pretty well if panhandlers can afford lawyers. I have to make payments to the dentist.

  • Global Warner Provo, UT
    May 7, 2013 8:13 p.m.

    Where are the true Christians in our area? I’m not surprised at the callousness of some public officials in Utah. What is dismaying is the way they seek to get the poor and homeless out of our communities. Many provide bus fare to Salt Lake City where homelessness is more common. They then rest assured that Utah County can more easily pretend to not have a poverty problem and people can smugly enjoy life in Happy Valley. But I prefer the teachings of King Benjamin about not judging the beggar who lifts out his hand for alms. To do so requires that we must repent. We’re explicitly told to not condemn such individuals for in reality, we’re all beggars. I also accept the teachings of Brigham Young who declared that it’s better to give to nine unworthy people seeking charity, food, etc. than to overlook the truly deserving person.

  • AZKID Mapleton, UT
    May 7, 2013 4:06 p.m.

    I recently helped a homeless person "get into the system" in Utah county. It took me nearly two months, nearly a thousand dollars, and enough frustration to write a handbook on the subject. But in the end, the effort was successful, and my new friend has some stability in his life for the first time in many, many years. This problem is a human problem. I believe that most people who are in unfortunate circumstances need a helper and a mentor. It was difficult, but rewarding to be able to help another human being.

    If more of us would step up and truly give of our time and resources to help another--rather than just passing a few bills out the window--then the problem could be solved. My approach is not for everyone, but I hope some will try it...

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    May 7, 2013 3:45 p.m.

    anti-liar - What you just expressed is a non-sequitur. If your story is true, the fact that a panhandler has given the same line more than once does not reduce his impoverished state.

    Indeed, King Benjamin teaches that we are all indebted spiritual beggars (Mosiah 4: 19-20). Have you ever made the same mistake twice and asked for forgiveness? Can you imagine if God treated you as you treat the panhandler - denying your request because He's already heard you throw that line at Him three or four times before?

    I submit that is the takeaway from King Benjamin. Ultimately, it is our job to give, where able, and not withhold charity from the poor or else we will be treated in like kind at the Judgment Seat.

  • anti-liar Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2013 2:06 p.m.

    @Stalwart Sentinel

    Yes, "Wisdom and in order" implies taking care to not give above one's means, true. But it very much ALSO implies not throwing one's pearls before swine. You miss a very important point regarding King Benjamin's words. He was referring to persons who are IN FACT poor, hungry, sick, devoid of protective clothing, etc. -- not to persons who PRETEND to be. We hear in the news from time to time about people getting a lot of money for their cancer treatments or such, only to learn later that they were outright deceiving and defrauding their fellow man. Rightly they were prosecuted. Four times, over a period of three YEARS, I myself heard the same downtown Salt Lake City panhandler give the same, intricate, rather convincing story about being en route to another state and how he needs $17 to replace his car engine's broken serpentine belt so that he may complete his journey. The 3rd and 4th times, I stepped in. Perhaps other readers here have heard the story first-hand themselves.

    I suggest a careful and honest re-read of King Benjamin's words.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    May 7, 2013 1:59 p.m.

    When I read the New Testament, I get the impression that this is something that would have been completely acceptable to the authors of that book, along with the person they most often quoted. So good for you, American Fork!

  • Dodle CEDAR CITY, UT
    May 7, 2013 1:23 p.m.

    @Stalwart Sentinel

    Does giving money to every person who is standing around with a sign saying they need help sound like "Wisdom and Order" to you?

    Whats wrong with righteous desires?

  • timothy0625 Palm Bay, FL
    May 7, 2013 1:00 p.m.

    My experiences with panhandles is; most want money to drink away, if you offer food or work for food/money, they refuse. They just want the money. The city/county/state is correct in telling the general public to give to the Charities. I never have cash on hand, my purchases for goods/services is by debit card, when they beg, I have nothing to give.

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    May 7, 2013 12:45 p.m.

    Dodle - I would not recommend taking scripture out of context to justify your apparent indifference.

    Here's part of the verse before and the entirety of verse 27:

    "I would that ye should impart of your substance to the cpoor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

    And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order." Mosiah 4: 26-27.

    The "wisdom and order" aspect admonishes us not to give too much if we ourselves are not financial secure. Somehow, I don't think "giving too much" will be a risk for you.

    Giving to the poor is not an act meant to "fulfill your desire" nor is it an avenue through which you are justified in judging what you perceive to be degrading/idle behavior. That is pretty clear.

  • JimInSLC Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2013 12:39 p.m.

    All the different organizations in the area that provide food, shelter, and other services to the homeless need to come up with some kind of coupon system. The local residence that want to help those that are asking for help can then purchase these coupons and hand the panhandler a coupon, maybe something like good for one meal at the mission. There would have to be some way that these coupons cannot be sold or redeemed for money. The panhandlers that are truly seeking help, should be thankful for them. Those that are looking for money may move on to another city when they tire of receiving only coupons.

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    May 7, 2013 11:59 a.m.

    Re: KanataHal

    You want to see barriers that prevent people from walking or moving about. Go to Washington D.C. the White House in particular. Some would say that's for security of important people. I think people of American Fork are just as important.

  • Dodle CEDAR CITY, UT
    May 7, 2013 11:57 a.m.

    @Stalwart Sentinel


    Mosiah 4:27 states
    "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order"

    As for me I certainly desire to help out those who are truly in need. But giving blindly without some discretion on my part is certainly foolish. And does not fulfill my desire to help the needy, giving blindly only perpetuates degrading behavior, and encourages idleness.

    If you deny help to someone who truly needs it and you know in your heart of hearts that you can do something to alleviate their pain, their starvation, or help them forward on a better path. And you choose not to because you feel they deserve it or for other selfish reasons then yes you are at fault.

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    May 7, 2013 11:53 a.m.

    Tell the Democrats about this. When they find out that millions of dollars nationwide are going un-taxed, they will find a way to tax the hand outs, and that should fix the problem.

  • Johnny Triumph American Fork, UT
    May 7, 2013 11:46 a.m.

    We've upped our charitable contributions each time we've seen a panhandler, they need to be off the streets. It's frustrating that they're the same people day after day.

  • Another Thought... ,
    May 7, 2013 11:28 a.m.

    I volunteered last January to assist with the Point-in-Time count, an annual count of all the homeless in the nation. We talked to many of these panhandlers as part of the count. I was suprised to learn that some of these folks have a house and just panhandle for the "extra money" they need when their disability pay or government benefits don't stretch far enough.

    I knew of an agency that was hiring people that day and offered the information to all the folks we came in contact with. Not one taker.

    Most folks don't make a lot of money panhandling, according to the reports we gathered that week, but they stop after getting enough money for a hotel room and their drug of choice. They already know where to go for food each day.

    Some drive Cadillacs, but I only saw one of them getting out of a Lincoln Navigator with his chair, cardboard sign, and sack lunch. There were several others similarly dressed all headed off to their designated locations.

    I've seen many of those same folks over the past few months standing at the end of the same offramps day after day.

  • TRUTH Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    I have been Panhandling for three years and I make $85,000 a year......tax free

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    May 7, 2013 10:13 a.m.

    I got accosted by a panhandler while out for a walk on Sunday. He told me he needed money to buy diapers for his baby. I told him I'd take him to the store to buy the diapers. He refused and again asked me for money. Sorry dude - I'm all about being charitable and helping those in need, but that doesn't mean I need to feed your vices so I can feel like a good Christian.

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    May 7, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    King Benjamin:

    “Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

    “But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God. …

    “And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance” (Mosiah 4:17–18, 22).

    Lots of people judging their homeless brothers and sisters on this post. It's pretty clear who will ultimately pay the price for that.

    "So the last shall be first, and the first last:" Matthew 20:16

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 7, 2013 10:04 a.m.

    I've noticed that the panhandlers at that particular intersection seem to have their territory staked out, with the same ones on each part of it daily for months. The fellow with the tie-dyed shirt has had the same signs, claiming he's "starving" since last fall. He doesn't look any the leaner for it. We're in the state with the lowest unemployment in the country. Jobs are plentiful for those who want them.

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2013 9:33 a.m.


    Let's talk about that $20 you refer to.

    If I give $20 in fast offerings to the LDS Church, it will get used by a system that will provide many more meals than a single homeless individual could provide with their limited resources.

    If you want to help a drug addict, giving them money is merely shoving the responsibility on them and hoping things will work out. Such a person is guilty, while others who are actually working to help are doing good. Giving someone money and expecting problems to fix themselves isn't exactly cold hearted, but it surely isn't selfless. Such a person doesn't actually desire to help. They desire problems to go away.

    We need to "put our shoulder to the wheel", not "give the wheel money and wait for it to spin".

    There is only one bread that we can eat and never be hungry, and it isn't the bread of man. If you want to really help them, feed them the truth, not a free paycheck. Help them by teaching a better way while standing them up self-sufficiently on their feet.

    We only help when working together.

  • Bob Wiley North Salt Lake, UT
    May 7, 2013 9:26 a.m.

    The only way to put an end to panhandling is for all of us to STOP giving them money. I'll bet most of those guys would give up in a day or two if they brought in zero dollars.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    May 7, 2013 9:07 a.m.

    I would rather give the money to someone that asks than to someone who promises to pay be back and don't. Bankruptcy, foreclosure, deserve to have 0 creditability.

  • SLC gal Salt Lake City, UT
    May 7, 2013 8:58 a.m.

    "They may also contribute to any local LDS Church bishop" - an LDS Bishop is not a cause. Perhaps this sentance could have been written differently.

    Dennis - yep, I'm cold hearted toward people who typically have nicer shoes then I do. I also have a low tolerence for "Bologna Sandwiches".

    I do like to help people who really need it which is why I give it to orginizations that know where to put it to help. It's good karma for a cold hearted person like me, and in the meantime I'm not holding up a whole line of cars that need to get somewhere.

  • KanataHal Ottawa, 00
    May 7, 2013 8:41 a.m.

    I have a problem with this solution, not because of sympathy for the panhandlers, but because of the message it sends to other pedestrains. Erecting physical barriers is what the communists did when they built the Berlin Wall. What happens when honest pedestrians cannot get from point A to point B without the use of a vehicle? It's all very dehumanizing.

  • 35ppg American Fork, UT
    May 7, 2013 7:53 a.m.

    True Story

    I live in Highland. One day a couple weeks ago I was at CostCo with my wife on the corner of this very intersection when a pan handler approached asking for money for gas. I had watched as another lady had just given $2 or $3 to them. I thought this is not right, this poor person coming out here and begging for money. So I offered to simply fill up the car for them at the Costco pumps.

    I thought this might cost me $50-$75 to do so, but I felt bad watching this. So they graciously accepted my offer and pulled their car up to the pumps. I started to fill up their gas tank, and to my surprise, the pump stopped at 3 1/2 gallons!

    Clearly they were not pan handling for gas money - the car was almost completely full of gas already.

    I feel for struggling people, so I try never to judge them. But I think we're also being taken advantage of.

    I understand why AF did what they did. But we also must maintain a level of compassion without being taken advantage of.

  • oldrunner Ogden, UT
    May 7, 2013 7:49 a.m.

    Pan handling is nothing more, or less, than a business. Their product is you feeling good about yourself, and the beauty of it is that you can pay as much as you want for that product. I have no need to purchase from them. I get mine from donating to many other charities. They should be required to purchase and maintain a panhandlers licence and adhear to a code of conduct. Those are things that the city can do, legally.

    Back in the 70s and 80s, my sister in law was a successful legal assitant in San Francisco. She earned what would be the equivelent of $80.00 per hour in today's money. However, when her spending money got low, she would put on some scruffy clothing, get her cardboard sign, and head for Goden Gate Park, where she would make more money per hour than working, all tax free. She didn't do it every day, but was suprised at how easy it was.

    If it makes you feel good, give them money.

  • Mark3054 Lehi, UT
    May 7, 2013 7:36 a.m.

    Dennis -- Some of you people are cold hearted.

    I suspect that many who are opposed to panhandling -- as am I -- give generously to charities that provide services to people in need. That is hardly cold hearted. What is cold hearted is to encourage behavior that does nothing to benefit the individual or society. It's tough to ignore them; but, it is the right thing to do.

    Ironically, as I was driving by that same location with my wife on Saturday, I commented how much of a safety issue I felt it was. The island on which they stood could not be more than two feet wide. When the light is green, traffic flows heavily and rapidly through the intersection. How tragic it would be if if one of those beggers stumbled and fell off the island in front of an innocent driver and a life was taken. What if the car had small children in it as many do at that intersection.

    Those of you who are so "noble", why don't you give up your job to a begger so they won't have to beg.

  • concerned grandma Saratoga Springs, UT
    May 7, 2013 7:34 a.m.

    For a lot of panhandlers this is their "job". They put on the costume each morning and by the end of the day have racked in probably more than you and I made that day. Some of them are very wealthy.

  • EPJ Grantsville, UT
    May 7, 2013 7:34 a.m.

    Money to panhandlers is almost always facilitating some sort of substance addiction rather than truly helping them dig out of their predicament. Some people are addicted to "freebies"--maybe they should use their time to look for a job.

    Give money to the homeless shelters, or buy food gift cards and have some on hand to give out to those who you deem as truly indigent. The rest are just scamming you.

  • FT1/SS Virginia Beach, VA
    May 7, 2013 6:55 a.m.

    This is one of those articles with good points, such as errecting barriers to open up traffic. And bad points, such as the Mayor of American Fork wishing away panhandlers from his city, and pawning them off to local Bishops and charities. As for those in need, I tried to follow my inner voice and help those who "really" need help. Sometimes it's passing them some money, sometimes bringing them food if there closeby my home. However, there are those who are professional pandhandlers. The past few summers there's been a husband and wife team working our local area with there hands heldout, and they can be found in different parts of the city working a fresh area. The inner voice always say's ignore them, and they look too good for the part.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    May 7, 2013 6:27 a.m.

    Some of you are cold hearted people.
    Many of these "panhandlers" are no different than you. Life has played them a bad hand and they're doing nothing that not a one of you would do were you in a similar situation. No place to go, to sleep, nothing to eat, no visible future for them. Seriously, does your religious background really tell you to react they way I'm reading?
    Stop and give them $20.00. Everyone one of you in American Fork. Make a difference on someones life. You'll be surprised how good it feels.
    Safety hazard.....sheesshhhhh.

  • Makid Kearns, UT
    May 7, 2013 6:21 a.m.

    Since cities can't stop anyone from panhandling, why don't cities make it a crime to give money to panhandlers?

    A city can make it a crime to put anything out of a car window with the exceptions of drive up windows/tellers and when pulled over by police.

    The ticket can be for blocking an intersection, disrupting traffic and encouraging dangerous activities.

    Police could do stings and give people tickets when they are handed money.

    This type of law is legal as it would be classified under littering. Just because someone is there to pick up what you through out doesn't mean it is legal to through it out.

    As being homeless can be a choice, let's help encourage them by not enabling them.

    Sure, the panhandlers can sue for being told they can't panhandle but they can't sue when it is against the law to give them money as that is a choice not a requirement.

  • TimBehrend Auckland NZ, 00
    May 7, 2013 6:13 a.m.

    “Citizens don't like being stuck at a light and have someone approach them,” said city administrator Craig Whitehead, “and they have had some very aggressive ones who have come up and looked in the window.”

    It may also be true that citizens don't like being out of work, hungry, trying to care for young children or being forced to beg for assistance that most other wealthy nations provide as a matter of social responsiblity. This group seems to have escaped Mr Whitehead's expressed concern for his fellow citizens, or "brothers" as they are sometimes called. When i think of the sayings and teachings of Jesus in the legendary history of Christianity, i think of him joining the panhandlers on the far side of the concrete barriers raised in this town to protect some citizens, some brothers and sisters, from having to see visible signs of the inadequacies of a capitalist economy as managed in the United States. Makes me think, too, of Woody Guthrie's Depression-era song about avoiding California if you don't have the dough-re-mi.

    Wonder where these beggars park their Caddies while raking in the big money?

  • jim l West Jordan, UT
    May 7, 2013 6:05 a.m.

    Up here in slc i go by an intersection almost daily where the panhandlers stand. Not more than 50 yards away there are 2 signs for help wanted. Tired of the begging.

  • The Deuce Livermore, CA
    May 7, 2013 12:00 a.m.

    My suggestion is to offer to take them to a job to actually work doing something for the money. See how quickly they will leave. For many this is a business. It is often difficult to tell the difference from the ones that actually need the help. That is why I suggest offering them work for pay to see how serious they are.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 6, 2013 11:42 p.m.

    I got accosted by one of these guys about a week ago. I had the truck and a loaded trailer, and I told dude to get in. Surprisingly, he did, I guess thinking I'd give him money. I moved onward, and he asked where we were going. "Williston, North Dakota", I answered truthfully. "I know a guy there who will hire you. He needs lots of help. Good pay". Buddy bailed at the next light like you wouldn't believe. My offer was real, there's work out there. But it's really work. I didn't think this guy wanted a hand up. Most of them don't. But that's what I had to offer. Life, dignity, a chance to move ahead. But I didn't have a handout for him. Unfortunately, that's all he wanted.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    May 6, 2013 10:13 p.m.

    Those who commented above forgot to mention all the panhandlers were driving Cadillacs.

    I really like how "I know it. I Live it. I Love it." brought guns into the narrative. I had a feeling someone would declare that lots and lots of guns would solve all the problems felt by both citizens and panhandlers.

  • C Smith 4 Utah ,
    May 6, 2013 9:27 p.m.

    I was waiting for my daughter who was shopping in a store in this area of American Fork. As she was getting in the car, a panhandler came and stood by the business in front of us. After he took out his smartphone he looked around, folded his cardboard sign in half, and then tucked it under his coat.

    My daughter and I commented that here he was panhandling because he was in dire straits, and yet he had a nicer phone than either of us. The funniest part was that he was standing right by the Verizon Wireless store when he did it.

    Also, there are multiple "Hiring Now" signs by businesses in that same area.

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Salt Lake City, UT
    May 6, 2013 9:26 p.m.

    Money is power. A gun is power.

    Giving a gun to a man says nothing about what he'll do with it. Giving a gun to someone just because they beg is irresponsible.

    If you prefer, take someone grocery shipping. If you prefer to be safer, point them to a facility for help and serve such facilities when you can.

    But just giving someone money without helping them use it wisely is like giving a drug addict money for rehab and trusting them to spend it wisely. I believe trust is earned. It's fine if you don't, but the record shows that trusting drug addicts doesn't usually have positive results.

    The effective thing to do is to serve, not to give more power to enable their problems then walk away. Irresponsible charity isn't charity, it's harm. The charitable branches of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have proven this time and time again: Prudent help is best. It's never popular, especially with those asking for help. But it works.

    Maybe we ought to teach others to rethink the popular definition of charity if we are to help them be self sufficient.

  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    May 6, 2013 9:06 p.m.

    If you want to increase bad behavior all you have to do is reward it. In the past decade we saw very little begging in Utah except for down town SLC. Now it is all along the Wasatch Front, and will only get worse until winter when they move back to warmer climates. People can give if they want, but it will only make the situation worse, and be of little help to those in need. There are plenty of local organizations that actually help those in need. Give to them, and give generously.

  • Igualmente Mesa, AZ
    May 6, 2013 8:41 p.m.

    I'm not sure the panhandlers want food or shelter, or even a job. Panhandling apparently is a job, a very lucrative job, especially in a community that is taught to not judge, but be generous to those in need. These folks are probably making a couple hundred dollars on a good day, tax free. It's easy money preying on the generosity of others, something for nothing.

    Indeed, it's a frustrating time for those out of work over a long period of time, stripped of dignity and self- worth, or perhaps enchained by addiction, to a point that they will stand all day in traffic to earn their income.

    As long as people keep the revenue stream alive, they will be there to collect it.

    Someone needs to legislate a variation of the no loitering law, so these folks can be removed from our dangerous intersections, and steered to shelters and employment resource centers, where they can seek to better their situations.

  • LDS Mom American Fork, UT
    May 6, 2013 7:41 p.m.

    It's not cold hearted. There are a lot of resources that people can use. They don't seem to be in too much need when they stand there with their "cold and hungry sign" while they talk on their cell phones.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    May 6, 2013 7:34 p.m.

    Re. Anti Bush-Obama
    "What a cold hearted thing to do. Panhandlers have a right to panhandle period."

    If what they are doing is a safety hazard, then they should be prevented from doing so. It is not cold hearted, just wise. I saw a lot of these middle-of-the-road panhandlers in California, and they did cause traffic problems. Do we wait until someone is killed or injured before taking action. There are plenty of places these people can go to get food, etc. if that's what they need.

  • Anti Bush-Obama Washington, DC
    May 6, 2013 7:06 p.m.

    What a cold hearted thing to do. Panhandlers have a right to panhandle period.

  • Way of the Warrior ARLINGTON, WA
    May 6, 2013 6:22 p.m.

    I've noticed that installing round-a-bouts at intersections also works as a good deterrent for panhandling.