Loudoun to Allow Labor Day Weekend Panhandling

Loudoun supervisors have voted to create a Labor Day weekend exception to the county’s ban on panhandling at county-owned property and along roadways, opening the door for fundraisers like Fill the Boot to return.

The county board in 2013 banned all solicitation from occupants of motor vehicles, citing complaints from residents and safety concerns. Following constitutional free speech challenges to similar laws elsewhere in the state—which found solicitation for donations is a form of protected speech—the ordinance was tweaked in 2018 to prohibit exchanging any item between a pedestrian and occupant of a vehicle in a travel lane, with exceptions such as for law enforcement.

That forced both panhandlers and some nonprofit fundraising off roads in the county, notably firefighters’ annual Fill the Boot campaign to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Before that time, firefighters would stand at intersections collecting donations from stopped cars in their boots, one of the county’s most visible charitable fundraisers.

However, county staff members warned the enforcement holiday may open the rule once again to constitutional challenges, warning it implicates free speech rights once again. According to the resolution the Board of Supervisors “authorizes non-profit organizations, community groups and citizens to use County property, including public rights-of-way (regardless of any restriction in Section 440.04 of the Codified Ordinances of Loudoun County), for fundraising purposes.”

The county staff also wrote they are unaware of other enforcement holidays in Virginia for public safety ordinances.

County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), who brought forward the resolution, said, “it feels a little like we in Loudoun County have outlawed being poor.”

“To say one weekend a year, for three days, we allow charitable giving in this county, is not unreasonable. And I do not believe it will open up any Pandora’s Box, and I do not believe it will change the culture of the county for anything but the better, to be honest,” she said.

Only Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), who served on the board that outlawed panhandling, voted against. He said, “I couldn’t live with myself if one of these folks got hurt doing this.”

“Putting people out in the middle of the street at our busy intersections is a safety issue, and it was when it was going on, and it was in other places, and it would be once again. And I did get lots of complaints about it when it went on,” he said.

The majority agreed to give it try—even if only for one year.

“I don’t’ think it’s going to be a huge issue. Obviously if it is, it’s something that’s a one-year thing and we won’t have to do it again,” said Supervisor Caleb E. Kershner (R-Catoctin).

Supervisors on July 19 voted 8-1, Letourneau opposed, first to suspend their normal rules of order and bring forward the resolution, which had not been made publicly available with the board’s meeting materials. They then voted 8-1, Letourneau opposed, to pass the resolution.

13 thoughts on “Loudoun to Allow Labor Day Weekend Panhandling

  • 2022-07-25 at 4:18 pm
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    Shame on Supervisor Letourneau. He’s such a Scrooge. Goodness knows, there needs to be a lot more charity dispensed in Loudoun. The gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” should be narrowing not widening. I agree wholeheartedly with Chair Randall. In fact, I think there should be many “enforcement holidays” in Loudoun — not just one. Happy St. James Day Loudoun!

    • 2022-07-26 at 3:48 pm
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      You typically make a comment about the tragic loss of life on Loudoun’s roads, yet you support pedestrians hanging out at intersections and walking in travel lanes?

  • 2022-07-25 at 4:24 pm
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    The fact that the Loudoun Career Firefighters Union President is in Colorado campaigning for Phyllis right now I am sure had nothing to do with this.

    She is a mess and she needs to be watched.

    • 2022-07-26 at 9:10 pm
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      Honest question. Why is he campaigning in Colorado and not Loudoun? I don’t get it.

      • 2022-07-27 at 5:52 pm
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        Trying to get money to help keep the laughingstocks that are the BOS and SB in office.

  • 2022-07-25 at 4:26 pm
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    This Board continues to amaze. Of course this will open up pandoras box and allow panhandling to be acceptable all the time in this county. Just you wait. Like I have been saying, we are slowly becoming Montgomery County where there is a panhandler on almost every corner. Not only is it dangerous for both the person(s) panhandling and those in the vehicles, it’s uncomfortable, is a nuisance, and will bring in more folks to conduct such an activity. If people want to donate to a good cause, they know how to do it. They don’t need to see law enforcement in mediums asking for a dollar or two. I don’t need to worry, once this becomes the new norm and allowed, whether or not the person that is making eye contact with me seeking money will snap or not. There are much bigger issues to deal with, and this is what their focus is on. How about lowering our county personal property taxes, which was suppose to happen with all of these data centers…now we are on the brink of a financial disaster in this county. But let’s worry about panhandling….SMH

  • 2022-07-25 at 4:32 pm
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    It’s wonderful that Randall is concerned enough about the poor to allow them to beg for money in public on a holiday. Randall and her allies on the board haven’t outlawed poverty in Loudoun. They are creating it! It’s time for a new board. We’ve tried failed “progressive” policies for 100 years. Clearly, it isn’t working.

  • 2022-07-25 at 5:04 pm
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    “County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), who brought forward the resolution, said, “it feels a little like we in Loudoun County have outlawed being poor.”

    Ah yes, Randall with the back of the hand slap to the people of Loudoun.

  • 2022-07-25 at 10:18 pm
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    This has GOT to be the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. Perhaps the Board could work on actual COUNTY BUSINESS issues?

  • 2022-07-26 at 4:11 am
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    I find this to be a bad idea. I oppose panhandling in the roads and feel this will open it up to another free speech argument that I can’t disagree with. If it’s a safety issue it is always a safety issue just just when the BOS feel like it. You can’t have it both ways.

  • 2022-07-26 at 11:10 am
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    Given the number of Loudoun’s distracted drivers, this is a bad idea. Given the number of out-of-the-area distracted drivers traveling on the heavily congested Labor Day weekend, this is a worse idea.

    That said, I look forward to giving the Loudoun firefighters a very loud earful on their unionization push while sitting at a stoplight.

  • 2022-07-26 at 9:02 pm
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    This is not a first amendment issue. This is not a panhandling issue. Above all, this is a safety issue. Ask any VDOT worker with experience about the dangers of working/standing in the right-of-way of intersections, turn lanes, etc. There is no reason for any person(s) to be in the VDOT ROW unless they are directing traffic, responding to an accident/disabled vehicle, or some sort of emergency. One wrong step can lead to injury and/or death.

  • 2022-07-27 at 5:32 pm
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    A bad idea revisited is still a bad idea this time admittedly with Randall’s backing, shame!

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