The Salvation Army can continue to ring the bell in downtown Colorado Springs.
The no-solicitation ordinance passed by Colorado Springs City Council yesterday eliminates soliciting of any type within a specific zone in the downtown area (north/south from Boulder to Cucharras and east/west from Nevada to Cascade).
The ordinance does not pertain to an individual or an organization soliciting on private property, which is permitted, even within the newly zoned area. Although the ordinance wasn’t directed toward the Salvation Army, the ordinance must remain content neutral in order to pass legal scrutiny, meaning that it applies to all forms of solicitation.
Colorado Springs is a supporter of Salvation Army, and provided over $160,000 in direct grants and federal grant allocation in 2012. There are 22 Salvation Army bell ringer locations around the city, only one of which is within the downtown no-solicitation zone. The Salvation Army bell ringer will be permitted to remain in the downtown zoned area on private property. The Mining Exchange Wyndham Grand Hotel has already offered the Salvation Army a place for a bell ringer on its property.
According to City Attorney Chris Melcher, “The motivation for the ordinance is to help small business owners, retail merchants, tourists and families in the downtown area. The community has requested help with solicitation and panhandling in the economically sensitive downtown area for several years, especially as the problem has worsened. Solicitation and panhandling have had a significant negative impact on business and community activity downtown. The ordinance will help the merchants and residents build a thriving downtown area, which is so important for the health and success of our entire community.”