Aggressive Panhandling Hurting Local Chico Businesses

CHICO, Calif. - Aggressive panhandling is causing some discomfort for many downtown Chico businesses.

"I've had pee in my store because they pee on the door, it leaks through and into my store," said Gayle Fritz, owner of All Cats and Dogs.

Fritz and others in downtown Chico said they clean up a mess left behind by the homeless at least three times a week. They say those messes include garbage, spit, and even human waste.

Fritz said it is driving local patrons away from her pet store.

"I don't see that many Chico people in my store anymore. One of the reasons is they don't like being panhandled," said Fritz.

Some organizations are seeing this as a growing problem.

"It's just becoming a bigger community issue," said Nicole Romain.

Romain is a manager with the Downtown Chico Business Association and 13 other organizations are working on a new movement called "Clean and Safe Chico."

She said this will help solve issues like parking, putting more lighting in downtown Chico at night, and that growing panhandling problem.

"That's one of the reasons why we are really pushing strongly with this," said Romain.

The Downtown Chico Business Association and a dozen other organizations presented the proposal to the Chico city council last Tuesday night.  The council was shocked and now they are working together.

"Just getting the city involved is a big tool for us," said Romain.

For some that call the streets their home-they say it's been tough for quite some time.

"It has been up and down.  I can't keep it steady," said Richard Munzer.

Munzer has been without a home since 2007.   He says sometimes when it comes to going to the bathroom there are no other options.

"Sometimes there's no place to go to the bathroom at two in the morning," said Munzer.

It's an option that Gayle Fritz hates cleaning up.

"I just hope Chico will come back and we can work this out," said Fritz.

The Chico city council says they will be fully discussing this issue at the next meeting.

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