BOULDER — Boulder officials are considering banning panhandling in some areas while also balancing public safety and free speech rights.

The Daily Camera reports (http://bit.ly/1g1590o ) the proposal would ban panhandling in outdoor dining areas and within 20 feet of a marked bus stop, a self-service fuel pump, a children's playground, an ATM or a parking pay station. It would apply only to verbal requests, not to people holding signs.

City spokeswoman Sarah Huntley says "we want to try to protect individuals' rights to feel safe and not feel harassed, particularly in areas where they can't quickly pass."

Courts have repeatedly found that asking for money is protected by the First Amendment. But they also have upheld local governments' ability to restrict the times and places in which people can ask for money.