New law to keep people off medians

New law to keep people off medians
A new law passed by the Escondido City Council will keep people from using medians for anything other than crossing the road. The changing of the law follows the death of a panhandler in April using the median at the intersection of West Mission Avenue and North Quince Street. Photo by Aaron Burgin

ESCONDIDO — On July 8, the City Council voted to change the laws regarding pedestrians’ use of medians after a panhandler was killed while soliciting money in April.

On April 24, 27-year-old Amanda Porter was struck and killed at the intersection of West Mission Avenue at North Quince Street.

She stepped off a center median and went to collect a handout from a driver of a pickup truck with a trailer full of sand and concrete. After she collected the money, she tripped and fell into traffic, which had just started to move.

The trailer ran over her.

The new law will prevent people from using the median for anything other than crossing the road.

“It should give the police a tool to keep (people) off the median, the narrow ones in the middle where you’re not supposed to be,” said City Attorney Jeffrey Epp.

The amendment also makes it unlawful for anyone to engage in abusive solicitation on a sidewalk, walkway or anywhere else in public.

Mayor Sam Abed said he supports the law amendment because he believes it will increase safety.

“I do support this amendment because it’s a safety issue and I think a lot of people are making it as a business,” Abed said. “I think we should address the needy people in a different way.”

People will no longer be allowed to solicit money in the crosswalk areas, including nonprofit solicitations like the San Diego Firefighters’ Boot Drive, which raises money for the Burn Institute of San Diego.

The amendment passed unanimously, with Councilmember Olga Diaz absent.

Any violations to the law will result in a misdemeanor.

The law first requires a second reading at the next council meeting August 5, and will go into effect 30 days after, in early September.

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