LORAIN — One group is working to increase safety and business downtown by developing a zero-tolerance policy for panhandling and loitering.
Jim Long, president of the board of the Lorain Growth Corp., said that while panhandling isn’t a major problem in the city, it does affect area businesses. He said the Lorain Growth Corp., in its efforts to promote area business, is distributing “No Loitering/No Panhandling” signs to business owners, who will post the sign on their doors.
The signs were paid for by business owner Jon Veard, who started posting the signs last year, according to Long.
Veard suggested a zero-tolerance policy during a meeting of citizens and business owners, according to a news release.
“The only way we can handle this problem in our community is to have no tolerance for this sort of behavior,” he said via the news release.
Long said the Lorain Growth Corp. will distribute the signs today. The signs serve as a warning that loitering and panhandling will not be tolerated in the downtown area, and anyone being reported as bothering patrons or panhandling will be prosecuted using city ordinances already in place.
Loiterers and panhandlers could face misdemeanor charges.
Long said the Lorain Growth Corp. has the support of the Lorain Police Department.
He added that the signs will serve as a preventative measure, especially with the holidays approaching.
“(Panhandling) affects people who intend to shop,” he said. “Some of the people feel that they don’t want to get out of their cars and shop.”
He said many of the panhandlers are not homeless and are coming from other cities, like Cleveland.
Supporting the project is the owner of Club Copa, Jose Ramirez, a safety committee member who designed the sign.
The Lorain Growth Corp. and the city’s downtown businesses also have been working to develop the Lorain Waterfront District as a viable business district. The group has worked with the city of Lorain to install new, brighter street lights and digital, broadband surveillance cameras downtown, according to a news release.