District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller wants to force panhandlers, newspaper hawkers and others off traffic medians and roadsides in unincorporated areas of Pima County.
The Republican asked the County Attorney's Office to draft an ordinance prohibiting individuals from public-right-of-way several weeks ago.
County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry put the item up for discussion on next week's Board of Supervisors agenda, but has also distributed a 23-page memo detailing traffic accidents for the last decade at intersections with and without signals.
The bottom line, according to Huckelberry, is that there's little evidence to suggest vendors pose a safety hazard to drivers in unincorporated areas of Pima County.
"A very small number (of accidents) were attributable to or involved vendors in the medians," he wrote.
Out of the 264 crashes that involved medians for the 10-year period, the Pima County Department of Transportation only found two crashes that involved vendors in the medians, a county report found.
During the same period, there were 264 accidents involving pedestrians, the report found.
The proposed ordinance would impose up to a $300 fine and 30 days in jail for violators. It also offers an alternative to those who cannot afford to pay the fine, allowing them to perform community service at the rate of $10 an hour.
In May 2001, the Tucson City Council implemented a ban on vendors selling newspapers and other items on street islands and roadsides, as well as those begging for change.
The council previously attempted to ban vendors from medians twice before, but failed in the early 1980s and again in 1991.
After two newspaper hawkers died in traffic accidents in July 1997 and January 1998, the city began requiring solicitors to wear orange safety vests and stay on medians.
Mark Henschen, the vice president of operations and circulation at the Arizona Daily Star, said the newspaper has roughly 25 independent contractors selling newspapers at intersections.
An individual contractor can make between $75 to $400 a week, he said, depending on location and the number of hours worked.
Miller did not return several calls for comment.
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"A very small number (of accidents) were attributable to or involved vendors in the medians."
Chuck Huckelberry, county administrator
Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4346.