A month after the City Council passed an ordinance to ban people from standing on certain medians , it seems most panhandlers are obeying the rules at one of the city's busiest intersections: 72nd and Dodge streets.
The ordinance proposed by Mayor Jean Stothert was a way to increase public safety along medians in typically high-traffic intersections.
"I notice the last couple weeks, it's been thinning out," said Richard Perourtka, who was holding a sign asking for money down the street from 72nd and Dodge streets, near Pine Street. "Every corner just manned by somebody, and I just noticed last week, I said, 'Boy, where are all the people at?' "
Where panhandlers once stood are now signs reading "Unlawful to Occupy Median," put up on 72nd and Dodge streets Nov. 21.
For a sign to be installed on a median, the median must be:
- 6 feet or less
- located at an intersection where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour or more
- at least 200 feet from the intersection
"We're just really going through our process right now to make sure that when we go out and put those signs, that they meet all those criteria," Deputy Public Works Director Todd Pfitzer said.
Since the ordinance was passed, Pfitzer said they've only received a handful of complaints.
"We really haven't seen a large volume of calls coming in or anything," he said. "We went ahead and did 72nd and Dodge — that one had been identified by several people prior to the ordinance being passed."
The city says no other intersections have had more than one complaint, but the following are others that have received some complaints :
- S. 42nd and P streets
- Saddle Creek Road and Cuming Street
- 156th Street and Pepperwood Drive
- S. 42nd and Center streets
- N. 90th and Fort streets
The Omaha Police Department said they have not ticketed anyone yet for standing on the median at 72nd and Dodge since the sign went up.
To make a complaint, call the mayor's hotline at 402-444-5555. Public works will then evaluate whether that median needs a sign.