In Pennsylvania, property owners and
tenants have the absolute legal right to keep their sidewalks clear of criminal
behavior and prohibited conduct (i.e., loitering, panhandling, homeless, etc.):
PA Code, Title 18 - CRIMES AND OFFENSES https://law.justia.com/codes/pennsylvania/2019/title-18
Chapter 35 - Burglary and Other Criminal Intrusion https://law.justia.com/codes/pennsylvania/2019/title-18/chapter-35
Section 3503 – Criminal and Defiant Trespass. https://law.justia.com/codes/pennsylvania/2019/title-18/chapter-35/section-3503
In Philadelphia, under Title 9, businesses have the ‘right and responsibility’ to keep the vicinity around their business free from “prohibited conduct” as defined under Title 10.
Under Title 9, businesses that allow prohibited conduct on the sidewalk or street, as defined under Title 10, can be forced to remediate the situation or be closed down. Unfortunately, most businesses don't know about Title 9, and believe that they have no rights or responsibilities to forbid prohibited conduct on their sidewalk or street.
TITLE 9-4400. RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS OPERATIONS: http://library.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Pennsylvania/philadelphia_pa/title9regulationofbusinessestradesandpro/chapter9-4400responsiblebusinessoperatio?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:philadelphia_pa$anc=JD_Chapter9-4400
TITLE 10. REGULATION OF INDIVIDUAL CONDUCT AND ACTIVITY http://library.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Pennsylvania/philadelphia_pa/title10regulationofindividualconductanda/chapter10-600publicplaces-prohibitedcond?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:philadelphia_pa$anc=JD_Chapter10-600
"Prohibited Conduct" under Title 10 (not the complete list):
SUGGESTED AMENDMENTS TO TITLE 10-600. PUBLIC PLACES – PROHIBITED CONDUCT:
ADD or STRIKE
(a) Except as set forth in § 10-611(7)(e), no law enforcement officer shall issue a notice of violation or take any coercive action against any person in violation of this Section, unless, prior to issuing such notice or taking such action, the officer or his or her designated representative: 135
(.1) With respect to violations of subsections (2)(g), (h), (l) or (m), relating to lying, sitting, obstructing, or leaving objects unattended, or (4)(b) or (c), relating to soliciting near a building entrance or bank, first issues an oral warning to the person or persons in violation, and then, if the person or persons refuse to comply five minutes after receiving an oral warning, issues a written warning to the person or persons in violation. The written warning shall be printed in English and Spanish. If the person or persons refuse again to comply, the officer shall issue another violation and take appropriate coercive action.
(.2) With respect to violations of subsections (2)(g), (h), (l) or (m), or (4), attempts to ascertain whether the person is in need of medical assistance or social service assistance, including but not limited to mental health treatment, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, or homeless assistance services; and, if the officer determines that the person may be in need of social service assistance, the officer contacts an Outreach Team, who, if available, shall come to the officer's location, evaluate the person's needs, and together with the officer take all reasonable steps toward directing the person to the appropriate service provider, including but not limited to offering transportation to such provider. If the officer's reasonable efforts to direct the person to needed social services are unsuccessful, the officer may issue a notice of violation or take appropriate coercive action, after the required notice is given, subject to compliance with subsections (.a), (.b) and (.c), below.
(.a) In attempting to ascertain whether social service assistance is needed, the officer or his or her designated representative shall:
(i) Whenever the officer has reason to believe the person may be in need of social service assistance, call upon an Outreach Team, if available, to evaluate the person's needs.
(ii) Shall not take any coercive action, including but not limited to compelling a person to reveal any confidential information concerning treatment or mental health status.
(.b) No law enforcement officer shall attempt to forcibly remove any person from the public sidewalk for violation of subsections (2)(g), (h), (l) or (m), or (4) without first contacting the Outreach Team (strike: “without the presence of an Outreach Team”), whenever the officer determines that the person may be in need of mental health or other social service assistance, and without first making all reasonable efforts to place the person voluntarily in an appropriate social service facility or treatment facility and the availability of an appropriate residential facility with appropriate treatment strategies for the client's needs.
(.c) If the law enforcement officer, in consultation with the Mental Health Officer, determines that the person, because of his or her mental health status or otherwise, presents a danger to himself or herself or to others, the law enforcement officer shall take such steps as are authorized under the Mental Health Procedures Act, Act of July 9, 1976, P.L. 817, as amended, including, if necessary, the initiation of involuntary commitment proceedings.
(b) The Police Department shall take all necessary and appropriate steps to insure that law enforcement officers who are likely to come into contact with persons in violation of subsections (2)(b), (g), (h), (l) or (m), or (4) shall receive all appropriate training in approaching, investigating and assisting persons in need of mental health treatment or other social service assistance.
(c) Violations of subsection (2)(a), relating to parking vehicles on the sidewalk, shall be enforced in accordance with the provisions set forth in Chapter 12-2800.
(d) For purposes of this Section, an Outreach Team shall mean a group of mental health or drug and alcohol counselors authorized and designated by the Department of Public Health to provide access to residential treatment for homeless persons with mental health diagnoses and/or drug and alcohol complications.
(e) The provisions of § 10-611(7)(a) shall not apply to disorderly conduct in violation of 18 Pa. C.S. § 5503. 137
(8) Penalties. A person found in violation of this Section shall be subject to penalty, as follows:
(a) For a violation of subsections (2)(a), relating to parking a motorized vehicle on the sidewalk; (2)(b), relating to gambling on the sidewalk; (2)(g), relating to lying on the sidewalk; (2)(d), relating to riding a scooter, roller skates or skateboard on the sidewalk; (2)(h), relating to sitting 138 on the sidewalk; (2)(l), relating to unreasonable obstructions on the sidewalk; and (2)(m), relating to unattended belongings on the sidewalk, a fine of twenty (20) dollars. 139
(b) For a violation of subsections (4)(a), (b) and (c), relating to aggressive solicitation, a fine of not more than one hundred (100) dollars.
(c) For a violation of subsections (2)(i), relating to the sale of goods or services, or solicitation of funds, on the highway; (2)(j), relating to displaying for sale objectionable material; (2)(n), relating to unrestrained animals on the sidewalk; (5)(b), relating to littering on the sidewalk; (6)(a), relating to owner/occupier of private property keeping the sidewalk clear of litter and obstructions; and (6)(c), relating to owner of take-out restaurants care of trash receptacles on the sidewalk, a minimum fine of one hundred (100) dollars and no more than three hundred (300) dollars.
(d) For a violation of subsections (2)(e), relating to loading or unloading a commercial vehicle on the sidewalk; (2)(f), relating to unlicensed sale of goods or services on the sidewalk; (2)(k), relating to unlicensed placement of any bench, planter, fixture or street furniture on the sidewalk; (5)(a), relating to honor boxes on the sidewalk without a permit; and (6)(b), relating to owner/occupier of private property keeping the sidewalk in good repair, a fine of not more than three hundred (300) dollars. 140
(e) For a violation of subsection (5)(c), relating to excessive noise on the sidewalk, fines as follows:
(.1) for the first violation, a fine of not less than twenty-five (25) dollars and not more than three hundred (300) dollars;
(.2) for the second violation, a fine of not less than one hundred (100) dollars and not more than three hundred (300) dollars; and
(.3) for the third and subsequent violations, fines of not less than three hundred (300) dollars.
(f) Each day a violation of this Section continues shall constitute a separate violation.
(g) In all cases, the court, in its discretion, may suspend the fine upon agreement by the offender to perform such community service or to participate in such social service assistance program or rehabilitation program as the City recommends and the court deems appropriate. No person shall be imprisoned for violating this Section or for failing to pay a fine for violating this Section.
(h) For a violation of subsection (2)(b), relating to gambling on the sidewalk, the penalty shall be that contained in Section 10-612. 141
(i) For a violation of subsection (2)(c), relating to bicycles on the sidewalk, the penalty shall be that contained in Section 12-808. 142
(9) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Section, nothing in this Section shall apply in the Third Councilmanic District, except for the area bounded by the Schuylkill River on the East running West on Spring Garden street to Fortieth street, then South to Market street, then West to Fifty-second street, then South to Woodland avenue, then East to University avenue, then South to the Schuylkill River, which area shall be subject to all provisions of this Section, including, but not limited to, subsection 10-611(1)(a), relating to provisions applying citywide, and subsection 10-611(1)(b), relating to provisions applying in designated zones. 143