Municipal Codes 9.10.010 through 9.10.060 address panhandling ("aggressive solicitation").

Code Stipulations


Panhandling is not allowed after sunset or before sunrise.


Panhandling is not allowed:

  • At any bus stop or inside metro buses or stations
  • From within any vehicle, or soliciting to someone in a vehicle
  • On private property, unless you have the owner's permission
  • Within 14 feet of the entrance of any public building (including stores, restaurants, etc.), the front face of any public building, or any crosswalk
  • Within 50 feet of any bank, ATM, change machine, or "financial institution" (this includes the parking lot)
  • While seated or leaning against private or public property (unless you have the owner's permission)


The following encounters are not allowed:

  • Coming within three feet of the person solicited, until that person has agreed to make a donation
  • Blocking the path of the person solicited, or other pedestrians
  • Following a person who walks away from the solicitor
  • Using abusive language as part of the solicitation or following a refusal
  • Soliciting in groups of two or more persons
  • Soliciting while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
  • Knowingly misleading others by stating something to the effect of:
    • "I'm homeless", when in fact you aren't
    • "I'm going to buy food", when in fact you are planning to buy something that is not food
    • "I'm going to buy food", when in fact you already have enough money to buy food
    • "I'm stranded in Santa Cruz and need to get home", when you really live in Santa Cruz
    • Saying that you're soliciting on behalf of an organization which does not exist, does not solicit funds, or that you have no intention of giving money to

Enforcement of the Municipal Code

Who Enforces these Municipal Codes?

Enforcement occurs in various degrees. Downtown Hosts, who are individuals employed by the city, often wander up and down Pacific Avenue politely enforcing various codes and regulations. Many times these hosts look like regular people just window shopping, but they can often be identified by a city monogram on their jackets, and in general they wear blue and yellow uniforms. They tend to be friendly when enforcing regulations, unless you resist or give them sass.

Officers from the Santa Cruz Police Department also appear downtown frequently, whether cruising on bikes or foot, responding to a call. Police tend to be less friendly and have the power (and firepower) to respond with force if the need arises. They also have the ability to fine and ticket you (with charges of either an infraction, or more seriously, a misdemeanor). They also seem to have no sense of humor.

Additionally, business owners and employees can enforce regulations when they are directly affected by panhandling (for instance, if they feel that their business is being compromised, if the person is causing an obstruction to people entering the business, or if someone is just being a nuisance). Usually they will just tell you to scram, and if you don't, they can call the police on you.

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