Tauranga's proposed begging bylaw has received strong support from the first wave of people making submissions at Tauranga City Council today.
Of 139 submissions to the Street Use and Public Places Bylaw 2018, 17 people are expressing their views on amendments to the bylaw, aimed at addressing issues around people sleeping rough in the city and begging.
The proposed bylaw reads: No person shall beg in a public place in a manner that is likely to cause intimidation, harassment, alarm or distress to any reasonable person. The bylaw includes that no person shall beg within 5m of a retail or hospitality premises, and no person shall rough sleep within 5m of a retail or hospitality premises.
Greerton Village Community Association chairman Alan Paterson said, in his personal view, he agreed with the proposed bylaw.
"I've got a lot of sympathy for the genuine homeless people and families living in cars, etc, often through no fault of their own and I will do whatever I can to help them."
However, he said something needed to be done to stop beggars bullying elderly, and others, for medication and money.
Paterson said he had personally seen "scammers" arrive in a van and target "some of our most vulnerable". He said he had also seen beggars make monetary exchanges for "little white bags", sleep on public benches and zone out "high as kites".
"I've personally, more than once, shovelled up human faeces from the entrances to shop fronts when there are public facilities only a few metres away."
Tauranga Farmer's Market committee chairwoman Lyn Paul said beggars had now begun targeting their shoppers while operating at Tauranga Primary School. She said the group supported the proposed bylaw but asked for some tweaking of the details to better enable the market to ask beggars to move on.
"We start at 6am and we have a problem of finding people asleep on the grounds. We ask them to move on but they know their rights and they don't move."
Paul said beggars regularly had the same sob story of their house having burned down and worked their way up and down queues and at the entrance ways to the market.
"People don't view us as 'retailers'. We aren't bricks and mortar but our retailers, that is their income, that is how they make a living."
St Peter's in the City church Reverend Simon McLeay said the begging issue in Tauranga had become a fairly new phenomenon which was destructive and harmful. He supported the proposed bylaw.
"We think it's bad for everyone. It's bad for the people caught up in it. The cash almost always goes to alcohol or drugs. I say that as a church that does provide food and support over the years.
"We see a difference between the homeless, which I have huge sympathy for, and the rough sleepers, who I also have sympathy for, and the beggars. We sympathise with them but we just don't think allowing begging to continue is a good thing."
The meeting continues.