Evanston aldermen voted to introduce an ordinance cracking down on door-to-door soliciting this week, and sent it back to staff to consider restricting such activity to daylight hours only.

Tighter restrictions on panhandlers and solicitors drew overwhelming support in a recent Evanston Now poll, with nearly 85 percent of readers who voted saying they favor the idea.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asked Monday for the daylight hours limit — saying the restrictions proposed by city staff weren’t tight enough.

Those proposed limits were 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, with soliciting banned at all times on Sundays and holidays.

The city currently restricts panhandling, or begging, in business districts. It also requires licenses for peddlers — people who sell merchandise or services from carts or other vehicles. And it even limits tag days by charitable groups.

But it lacks restrictions on people who come to your door with a hard-luck story or a pitch for magazine subscriptions or contributions to a real or imaginary charity.

The new ordinance would close that gap, and would also require that solicitors respect “no soliciting” signs posted by residents.

However it would not go as far as ordinances in communities like Highland Park — where solicitors are required to get a license from the police chief.

Assistant City Attorney  Michelle Masoncup asked the aldermen to not amend the ordinance immediately to include the daylight hours restriction.

She said she’d need to do research on whether that would pass constitutioonal muster as being reasonable, given the free speech implications involved in restricting soliciting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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