One idea mentioned in the tourism transition team’s report to Mayor Javier Gonzales was the recommendation that Santa Fe consider “donation stations” as a way to discourage panhandling, while at the same time, get help to people who need it. The idea has been pioneered in cities such as Denver and San Diego. It’s one worth trying in Santa Fe.
Here’s how it works. “Stations,” often disabled parking meters, are set up to receive donations. The money collected in the meters is used to help people who are down and out. This eliminates some human contact, to be sure, but also means that aggressive panhandlers aren’t as commonplace and that people who are just out taking a walk won’t be approached constantly for money. What’s more, in cities where the program has been in place for several years, incidents of panhandling seem to be reduced. Donation meters are being used in more than 16 cities around the country, with money for charities coming both from donations and from business sponsorships of the meters.