EDITOR’S NOTE: To clarify, Mayor Ron Warpness did vote in the affirmative to pass the door-to-door solicitation ordinance when it came up for a final vote on second reading. The nay vote he cast was for the amendment that was offered by Council member Lars Baker.
(Riverton, Wyo.) – The door-to-door solicitation ordinance up for second reading approval Tuesday night before the Riverton City Council was approved, but not before the text of the ordinance was totally deleted. In one of his last acts as a council member, Lars Baker proposed an amendment to cut out all the language in the ordinance and replaced it with wording that placed the responsibility on each resident in the city. Baker suggested, and the rest of the council agreed with him, that residents who do not want to be solicited at home, should put up a no solicitation sign. Period. Bakers amendment would also allow “door hangers” where information is simply placed on a door handle and the resident is not contacted. Only Mayor Ron Warpness voted no on the amendment.
“This does away with the administrative burden on the city and places the responsibility on the homeowner,” Baker said. “This solves our problem (with issuing permits) and it gives homeowners a solution. And it’s not a complicated piece of legislation,” he said.
Police Chief Mike Broadhead said he thought the amended ordinance would work. “I think it’s a good compromise and we can tell the public how to protect themselves. It’s certainly workable,” he said.
When Mary Ellen Christensen asked it the signs would apply to non profit groups, such as the boy and girl scouts, Baker said yes. “If people don’t want to be solicited, that would apply to anybody, and to the scouts. This will be regulated by people who would call the police if there is someone knocking on their door if they have a no solicitation sign. If it’s the scouts and they want to buy cookies or popcorn, they won’t call.”
Christensen also asked what kind of penalty would apply. Broadhead said it would be the same as any other violation of a city ordinance. A fine up to $750.
Councilor Eric Heiser, who was also attending his last meeting, said asking residents to put up a no solicitation sign “is not a huge burden to ask.” To illustrate, he pulled up a web site on his iPad offering what he called “attractive and tasteful” no solicitor signs for $10. “You don’t have to have a big neon orange sign on your house if you don’t want to,” he said.
Rocky Mountain Power officials expressed concern about the way the proposed ordinance was first worded, because under their utility contract, they contact residents when work is to be done in their neighborhood as a courtesy. “We don’t sell, we don’t collect money, we don’t solicit. We just leave notices encouraging customers to contact us or make them aware of something we need to do,” said Larry Elcock, Rocky Mountain Power’s customer and community manager in Riverton. When asked about Baker’s amendment, all three Rocky Mountain Power representatives in attendance flashed “thumbs up.”
Richard Gard was happy with the change. “This is a positive step, it helps people who have legitimate reasons to have this option. People take responsibility at their own door, and we already have no trespass ordinances on the book.”
The amendment passed 5-1 and on second reading the ordinance was approved 6-0. The ordinance will come up for third reading, and final approval, in Janaury.
To read about the first reading discussion on the ordinance, click here.
Council member Jonathan Faubion was absent and excused from Tuesday’s meeting.