Yes, panhandling is legal as long as it is performed in a location where the subject has a legal right to be located. Panhandling on or within 500 feet of a freeway access ramp is not legal (22520.5 California Vehicle Code (CVC)). Panhandling while in the roadway is a serious safety issue. Anyone who is located on a center median or any other part of the right of way of a roadway while soliciting and their actions create a traffic hazard are subject to citation (21954 CVC). If you witness anyone panhandling on or near a freeway access ramp or within the right of way of a roadway please notify the Murrieta Police Department at 951-696-3615.
While panhandling in certain areas may be legal, alternatives to giving the subject money could be more effective. Donating to a local shelter, food bank or non-profit can help ensure aid is being distributed appropriately. Another strategy could be to purchase basic necessities, such as; food, water or clothing and giving it to the subject who is panhandling, in lieu of money.