Federal court docket blocks Albuquerque panhandling ordinance
In the city of Albuquerque, beggars stand in the median or right next to interstate exits asking for money, and some like to take to the streets – which has resulted in pedestrians being injured or killed. This is one of the reasons Albuquerque City Council passed an ordinance in 2017 banning pedestrians from standing on median strips, exiting highways on or off ramps, and even speaking to drivers.
“Your argument all along has been that this regulation aims to protect pedestrian safety.”
But four years later, the United States 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutional and violated people’s rights under the First Amendment.
“You explain to the City of Albuquerque that you are nowhere near your destination.”
UNM law professor Josh Kastenberg told KOB 4 that despite other cities with similar ordinances, the county’s 110-page ruling made it clear that Albuquerque did not provide enough evidence of how that ordinance would protect the community.
“This was an attempt to limit activity or remove activity from areas with heavy traffic congestion. Even so, Albuquerque didn’t have the data to support this rule, ”Kastenberg said.
He said the whole point in this case was a matter of freedom of expression.
“It is a freedom of expression choice that applies to all of us, and when viewed through that lens, the Tenth Ward protects freedom of expression for all, not a select group of people, affected by the regulation. “
The city can appeal this decision and try to call the Supreme Court, but Kastenberg says, “Honestly, I think the city of Albuquerque has to start all over again.”
KOB 4 has reached out to the City of Albuquerque to comment on the court’s ruling and the spokesman sent the following statement:
“We are investigating our own measures, such as mobile speed monitoring, targeted road improvement projects and more from the Vision Zero Action Plan, in order to make our roads safer for everyone.”
They did not comment on whether they were planning to appeal the court’s decision or issue a new ordinance due to the lack of the data the court said.