Proposal To Put City Enforcement Teeth In Residents' "No Soliciting" Signs And Curtail Unwanted Fliers & Unlicensed Door-to-Door Solicitations Sent To Council Committee To Discuss Instead of City Att'y To Prepare
|(May 16, 2012) -- A proposal by Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, which had been co-agendized by Councilman Patrick O'Donnell, to give City Hall enforcement power to residents' "no soliciting" signs and curtail unwanted fliers and solicitations on residents' doorsteps was sent to an uncertain fate in a Council Committee instead of to the City Attorney's office for preparation on Tuesday May 15.
The Council voted 8-0 (Lowenthal absent) to approve a substitute motion by Councilman Gabelich (seconded by Councilman Gary DeLong) that sends the item to the Council's Housing & Neighborhoods Committee. The proposed additions to LB's Municipal Code would enable City Hall to cite or fine unlicensed solicitors who ignore residents' "no soliciting" signs and would create a registry of residents who don't want to be solicited ("do not knock"). A number of Councilmembers voiced concerns about the measure...and one flatly criticized it.
Councilwoman Schipske's proposal encountered choppy water nearly immediately when co-agendizer O'Donnell opened by indicating he was simply seeking the City Attorney's input.
Councilwoman Gabelich raised concerns that the measure could hinder efforts by small businesses to advertise their services to neighborhoods in poor economy.
Councilman DeLong questioned whether the item would apply to free newspapers and realtors; Schipske said it wouldn't apply to newspapers but would apply to realtors if a homeowner had put up a "no solicitation" sign; when she added that she was also seeking City Attorney input, DeLong replied that the proposal sounded "half-baked" to him.
Councilman Andrews asked if it would apply to non-profits; Schipske said no. Councilman James Johnson noted that LB has an existing ordinance prescribing standards for leaving items on doors/porches and questioned staff about whether it was being enforced.
A NLB realtor said the proposed ordinance would make it harder for him to make contacts and find customers.
Ultimately, Councilwoman Gabelich made a substitute motion to send the item to the Council's Housing & Neighborhoods Committee instead of to the City Attorney's office and Councilman DeLong seconded her motion, escalating his criticism by labeling the proposed ordinance
Councilman O'Donnell told the audience that the item would receive City Attorney input and would receive a full and complete vetting prior to any enacting action.
Immediately prior to the vote, Councilwoman Schipske asked that City Attorney's office weigh in on the issue at or before the Committee meeting and Ass't City Attorney J. Charles Parkin agreed to do so.
Under the proposal, Long Beach residents would be able to put up "no trespassing" or "no solicitation" signs -- backed by the force of city law -- that would prohibit door-to-door solicitations (commercial or non-commercial) and prohibit the placement of handbills, fliers or other materials at residences displaying such signs, and could list themselves in a "no soliciting" registry telling commercial firms they don't want to be solicited.
The agenda item asks the City Attorney to revise LB's coes to include provisions that require commercial solicitors to display a license, permit and identification, require that handbills contain contact information on the person or group responsible for distributing them, as well implementing the provisions on "no solicitation" signs and creating a "no solicitation" residential registry.
In their agendizing memo, Councilmembers Schipske and O'Donnell said "several cities have enacted laws giving their residents options for dealing with solicitors and handbills on their property" of the type they recommend, and they say "The City of Long Beach has a legitimate interest in protecting its residents from the invasion of privacy at their residences by unwanted solicitors or their advertising materials." They recommend that the city "update its code concerning licenses and permits and regulations concerning door-to-door solicitors and the placement of handbills on private property, in order to increase this protection."
To view the full agendizing memo, click here.
In a Facebook dispatch, Ann Cantrell commented that "the City of Long Beach already provides these doorknob signs for residents. Just go to litterfreeLB.org and order one. It will be mailed to your house. I did this a few weeks ago and have had only ONE ad left on my doorstep since! These are magic!"
LitterfreeLB.org indicates it's collecting information from residents on door to door solicitations.
The item by Councilmembers Schipske and O'Donnell sought to go further and put the force of city law (enforcement) behind the signs.
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