BART to consider ordinance banning panhandlers, performers in stations and trains

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- BART may be about to take the first step towards banning panhandlers and performers from the trains.

A BART board member from the East Bay wants to draw up an ordinance that would do just that, saying it's something her constituents consistently complain about.

Live performers inside the BART stations and on the trains. Love them or hate them, it's hard to miss them.

"Our riders are not voluntarily watching them, they are forced to. They're on the ride from one place to another and they are forced to watch whatever goes on on the train," said BART Board member Debora Allen who represents the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill area.

In a vote at Thursday's board meeting, she and supporters directed BART staff to analyze whether an ordinance banning performers and panhandlers from areas between the turnstyles and the trains would be legal. But she says preliminary legal opinions apparently back her up.

"We have the right to put reasonable ordinances in place for the benefit of our paying ridership," she said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California disagrees. They sent a letter to BART saying:

"We have concerns when a government entity plans to restrict fundamental free speech rights and make it illegal to panhandle or busk."
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