SRCEH v. Sacramento (Anti-Panhandling Ordinance)
In April 2018, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California and Legal Services of Northern California filed suit in federal district court against the City of Sacramento to halt enforcement of an unconstitutional "anti-solicitation" ordinance adopted by the Sacramento City Council. The suit was filed on behalf of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, the Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee, and James “Faygo” Clark, a homeless activist and Sacramento resident.
The ordinance gave Sacramento Police the authority to cite, fine, and arrest people who were asking for help or donations. The ordinance restricted the free speech rights of people in numerous public areas — including on medians, near shopping center driveways, and within 30 feet of public transit stops, financial institutions, and ATMs. Although the law was claimed to be an attempt to stop “aggressive and intrusive solicitation” ordinance, it criminalized purely passive activity such as sitting peacefully on the sidewalk with a sign or a donation cup. Any person who violated the ordinance more than twice within six months could be charged with a misdemeanor — punishable by a fine of up to $1000, six months in jail, or both.
After hearing the plaintiffs' motion for an injunction, the Court issued a permanent injunction invalidating the ordinance, and awarded plaintiffs' their attorney's fees.
Video: We All Have the Right to Ask for Help (May 9, 2018)