North Charleston City Council on Thursday chose not to ban street soliciting in the city's 10 most-dangerous intersections, leaving officials divided over whether to regulate it and, by effect, the linked practice popular with firefighters known as the "boot drop."
Council members and Mayor Keith Summey were split over a proposal that would make it illegal for anyone to street solicit in the top 10 danger zones in the city.
Some council members said all street soliciting should be banned outright because of the risk of injury, no matter where the choke point.
"I'm not going to put any of our employees in danger," Councilman Steve Ayer said during a council discussion Thursday night.
The proposed ordinance would cover anyone soliciting in a risky intersection. But it comes primarily in response to firefighters who pursued "boot donations" from stopped or rolling motorists during this year's Carolina Children's Charity fundraiser.
In March, City Council didn't allow the firefighters to street solicit after ruling their application wasn't submitted in time. They still were permitted to seek donations but primarily in store parking lots or other off-street locations.
City Councilman Bobby Jameson said the most logical and safe choice is to ban all street soliciting citywide. Opposing him was Councilwoman Rhonda Jerome, a longtime supporter of firefighters and their issues. A motion to forward the ordinance was defeated 6-4.
Summey, who supported the proposal, said the issue is dead for now, or until a council member wants to try again.
The 10 intersections suggested represented some of the more highly traveled roads in the city, with the intersection of Ashley Phosphate Road and Rivers Avenue listed as the most dangerous, with 136 accidents last year.
As it stands, charity groups still can solicit at intersections in North Charleston but first must apply for a permit.
The ordinance would have done away with the permitting process but made any soliciting near those dangerous intersections completely off-limits.