Medians off-limits
Randy Metcalf/The Explorer, Since late last year, Mark Remus has sold newspapers at Ina and La Cholla roads in Pima County. The county is the only Northwest location where selling newspapers in medians will be legal after June 20, with hawkers in Marana forced to relocate to busy intersections in the county.

Marana’s new city ordinance banning sales of newspapers from intersection islands will go into effect June 20.

Marana Town Council members passed the ordinance unanimously May 20, making it a Class 3 misdemeanor to occupy city intersections to solicit employment, businesses, contributions or donations to people in their vehicles. The ordinance will mainly affect car-wash fundraising, advertisers and the sale of newspapers.

The ordinance provides that the magistrate may impose community service in lieu of a fine, credited at $10 per hour. A Class 3 misdemeanor’s maximum fine in Arizona is $500 and no more than 30 days imprisonment.

At the intersection of Ina and Thornydale roads, the new ordinance will affect people like Manuel Garcia. Garcia said he has been selling newspapers on the intersection’s south island for the past eight years. Before that, he sold newspapers in Tucson for 11 years.

“Maybe I will try and work up there at the other corners,” Garcia said. “I don’t know what I am going to do.”

Mark Remus sells newspapers in nearby, unincorporated Pima County, at Ina and La Cholla roads. Sales will not be banned at that intersection.

“It’s going to be hard if the county banned sales here,” Remus said. “I think I would have to leave town to get another job.”

Remus, who is homeless, has been selling newspapers on the north island at Ina and La Cholla roads since late last year. He doesn’t expect anyone to try to take over his selling location. But he said it was going to be “interesting” come June 20, when displaced newspaper hawkers will look for other legal locations to sell their newspapers.

Marana has set up a plan for addressing how the ordinance would affect the street hawkers. For the past month, the community development staff visited the vendors, informing them of the ordinance, referring them to organizations which can help them find work elsewhere, and giving them contact information for community development if they needed any additional information.

T. VanHook, director for community development in Marana, said she talked to each hawker selling newspapers on Marana streets.

“We are really positive about all of this,” VanHook said. “I believe this is for the betterment of our citizens – to protect them. We don’t see them as criminals. It’s a hazardous situation; we’re trying to mitigate those hazards. But we see them as members of our community.”

VanHook said no vendors asked for services.

In a letter to former Marana Chief of Police Richard Vidaurri, the Marana Chamber of Commerce encouraged the ordinance. It cited traffic safety, turf battles among rival vendors, medians no longer serving as safety barriers for drivers, abuse of crosswalk buttons, eye contact distracting drivers, litter, and increased congestion of the intersections which poses a greater risk for accidents as concerns.

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