The city's frustration is understandable, but its remedy is too broad and too punitive, emblematic of the excesses that many municipalities succumb to in confronting the unsightly but all too human problems associated with panhandling.
Political activist Richard Salzman filed suit against the city last year, claiming that the ordinance's geographic restrictions against begging violate the First Amendment. The Times' editorial board agrees:
Yes, it can be irritating to be confronted by poverty while exiting a store, but the tender sensibilities of shoppers cannot be allowed to outweigh the rights of Americans.
A decision on the case is expected soon.