It was a hot spot to beg for change until Richland decided it was too dangerous for the panhandlers and traffic.

Citing a safety concern for panhandlers and drivers, the City of Richland passed and posted an ordinance that no longer allows people to stand on the SR-240 off-ramp stop-light at North Columbia Center Boulevard.

The signs posted means it can now be enforced.

Before the signs, police and state troopers could not enforce trespassing laws at the busy interchange because none were posted.

"We really couldn't get them to leave," said a state DOT spokeswoman, before the signs.

Google Earth
Google Earth

The trespassing issue is different than the anti-panhandling ordinances previously considered at various busy intersections, but those were deemed likely unconstitutional.

"Begging" can't be outlawed. It's an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.

However, an intersection which has no sidewalk or crosswalk is a no-go for pedestrians. Loitering is not permitted either. As long as No Trespassing signs are posted, action can be taken.

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