Wednesday 03 September 2014

West U To Look Into Strengthening Door-To-Door Solicitor’s Ordinance

West U City Council directed staff to look into how other cities have tightened their solicitor’s ordinance during a workshop on Monday night.

The West U City Council has asked city staff to look into additional ways to strengthen the city’s current solicitor’s ordinance.

Council directed staff to look into how other cities have tightened their solicitor’s ordinance during a workshop on Monday night.

Councilmember George Boehme requested the workshop session to discuss the city’s door-to-door solicitor’s ordinance and to see if there are any additional provisions that can be added to the existing ordinance.

“I continually hear from people, questions about our solicitor’s ordinance,” Boehme said. “To a lot of residents, this is a concern to them.”

The city currently requires solicitors to apply for a permit at the police station, abide by the city’s do-not-disturb list and “wear an easily readable identification badge while engaging in such solicitation.”

Any person or organization that violates the city’s code of ordinances regarding soliciting can be fined up to $500 for each violation.

The city may refuse to issue a permit or may revoke a permit if an applicant has provided false information in the application or has a criminal history.

Councilmember Steven Segal asked Police Chief Ken Walker what the city is doing to enforce the ordinance.

“Maybe we should encourage people to call the police more often,” Walker said.

The police department has received seven calls this year from residents about solicitors, he said. Seven calls were also received last year.

“The door-to-door solicitors haven’t been a problem since the ordinance was changed,” Walker said.

Boehme said he called to report a solicitor once and was told they were registered with the city. Since then, he’s just presumed they are registered, he said.

Walker said the police department received four applications this year and none of them were approved. In 2010, seven applied and two were approved.

“If we know they’re not approved and an officer drives by and sees someone walking, they should know they are breaking the law,” Segal said.

Three people have been arrested for soliciting so far this year. In 2010, three people were arrested, compared to 10 in 2009, Walker said.

“The door-to-door solicitors are people that typically couldn’t get a job at a carnival,” Walker said. “They typically have criminal histories. Those are the ones that concern me the most.”

Segal said he would like the next city currents to have a blurb in it about how many solicitors are registered with the police department.

“The seniors are concerned about people coming and knocking on their door,” he said.

Colleyville, Texas recently strengthened its solicitor’s ordinance to require that solicitors must prominently display their permit and wear an orange traffic vest.

“I would like to look at those things,” Boehme said.”

City Manager Michael Ross said anything that can help the police identify a solicitor would be beneficial.

Mayor Bob Kelly said it doesn’t seem like the city has a soliciting problem and that the current ordinance seems to be working.

Kelly said if someone comes to his door that he doesn’t know, he just doesn’t answer it.

He asked City Attorney Alan Petrov if a resident could call the police if someone came to their door that they didn’t know.

“You can call the police, but the police can’t always do something about it,” Petrov said, adding that religious and political organizations are exempt from the ordinance.

Council asked staff to look into and bring back what other cities have done with their soliciting ordinance.

26 Comments

  1. Neighborhood Gal says:

    This is a great idea. I am so tired of these shady looking solicitors who won’t take no for an answer.

  2. Georgetown Voter says:

    Making solicitors wear something distinctive is a great idea. These solicitors are a pain in the a**

  3. Laura says:

    1st choice: ban solicitors
    But if we can’t ban them, throw as many rules at them as we can to make them go away. I have door-hangers of business cards left on my door everyday.

  4. Steve H. says:

    If you don’t like ‘em, don’t answer the door. Simple

  5. Another West U Voter says:

    I am totaly in love with the idea making solicitors get a permiit, prominently display their permit and wear an orange traffic vest. Viva Jorge!

  6. West U Mom says:

    Does this mean that all of the magazine sales people that have come to my door with an official looking clip board and sheet protectors, were not approved by West U!? I’ve had two or three just in the last month. One guy was just a lobbyist, but I’m guessing he also did not have a permit. We live in a house with a lot of windows. It’s not easy to ignore someone outside, without feeling vulnerable. Also, once you’ve opened the door, you don’t want to get too close and/or ask too many questions about their permitting (when they act as though they’ve got the official paperwork). Your door is open and you’re already at risk. I think having a badge and/or orange vest would be a fantastic idea! It would let the residents know solicitors are permitted and if the police see an orange vest, but know there aren’t any permits, they would see them more easily and could pick them up. Great Idea!

    • Lucille Gallman says:

      When I worked and rode the bus that ran on University, frequently I would get off the bus and walk home in the dark. I was always amazed that people would have all their lights on and no coverings on their windows. I know one can’t live in fear but one needs to be cautious. When I lived in West U, I had a rule that I never opened the front door. The times I did, I immediately regretted it. If it was a reasonable hour, I would walk outside, go to the front yard and speak to them. Usually they were gone by the time I got there. I wouldn’t rely on orange vests to separate the good from the bad. You could do as my daughter and her family, get two German Shepherds.

  7. Mayor Bob Kelly says:

    Police Chief Ken Walker did not believe that WU had a problem. If he had, he would brought the matter to Council. As to the colored vest concept, it was discussed that once the “bad guys” learned the they could go door to door with a certain colored vest, they would buy a vest of that color. Our citizens would then have a false sense of security and they would believe someone coming to their door wearing a vest of that color was approved by our police. It was believed that the best practice was for our citizens to call the police and report someone going door to door. Our police would then respond and make sure they had the proper WU permit. our existing ordinance is working. A change would only promote a sense of false security. So, next time you see someone going door to door, call our police.

  8. Wrong again says:

    Mayor kelly, I was there. You are not telling the truth again.

  9. West U Resident says:

    Kelly has it all wrong. Who cares if the colored vest is a fake? When you see a colored vest, you don’t answer the door. Works for me. Pass the strongest rules possible. And by the way, if George introduced a resolution supporting the Girl Scouts, Kelly would oppose it. Petty, Petty Petty…

  10. Sally Rogers says:

    I don’t want to sound rude. But Mayor Kelly really doen’t get it. Doot-to-Door solicitors are a problem. If they are wearing a colored jacket, they might be legal. But if they are not wearing the jacket, they are definitely breaking the law. We need to regulate the Hell out of these solicitors.

  11. Mayor Bob Kelly says:

    Anyone who believes Chief Walker believes WU has a problem should give him a call and ask him. Bottom-line: if you see someone going door to door, call the police and ask them to check the person out. That is the only way to be sure.

  12. Ice Cream Truck says:

    What about the ice cream trucks? Some of those guys are down right disgusting? Do they have to have a permit?

    • Tadpole says:

      AMEN. I’m pretty sure the heaps that drive down my street probably can’t even pass a vehicle inspection . . .

  13. Ms. Pat Malone says:

    We have their permits on file.
    Badge or no badge, orange vest or no orange vest … call and report any suspicous looking AH.

    These scumbags usually hand out some BS story about representing some school or religious organization and, if I ask, they always say they have a permit.

    One was dressed in a suit and very persistant and tried to look into the house, although I had walked out to meet him on the porch. I offered a “thanks, but not interested” and he gave a stupid look and walked away, and immediately, I called dispatch. Police were there in no time flat. He was not permitted.

    The other came dressed in a nice suit and rang twice and this time I didn’t answer, but I didn’t waste any time with calling dispatch. Police were there in no time flat. He was not permitted.

    These sleazys could be canvassing your home and you.

    I totally agreed with the Chief when he says … “Maybe we should encourage people to call the police more often.”

    Just be prepared to give Dispatch descriptions of what the slim bags were wearing and what direction they were going.

    Who you gonna call? … the Scumbag Busters!

    Thank you.
    Ms. Pat Malone

  14. Frank says:

    There we go again…”religious and political organizations are exempt from the ordinance” Why? What makes them so special that Laws and Taxes don’t apply to them? Why don’t they pay their fair share of maintaining our City? Why don’t they have to follow the rules that everybody else has to follow?
    We are all equal under the Law, but some of us are more equal than others…
    It’s sickening.

  15. WestUSue says:

    Recently, three shady-looking characters in cheap suits were knocking on doors and walking through yards in the 4200 block of Southwestern. I called the Police and the dispatcher said “they’re o.k., they’re Jehovah’s Witnesses, and we have already received three other calls about them.” What sort of special ID or background check did WUPD perform to assure us that these three men claiming to be Jehovah Witnesses were, in fact, legitimate? Orange vests fit serial killers, too. Outlaw any solicitor, period.

    And to those of you who continue to trash Bob Kelly (regardless of your political motives), use your real name, you little spineless monkey. Agree or disagree, he is still our Mayor and has every right to voice his opinion.

    • Ms. Pat Malone says:

      In response to West U Sue:

      I should have added that when I called Dispatch on the slime ball wearing the “nice” suit, someone (a male) said they were OK. I asked how he knew. He said that one of my neighbors told him.

      I persisted and asked again that he send a patrol car. As noted above, the slime bag was not permitted.

      This dispatcher failed to execute his job responsibilities. Maybe Dispatch needs a refresher course in “public service.”

      Thank you.
      Ms. Pat Malone

  16. Bill White says:

    I agree with WestUSue. Use your real names you little spineless monkeys. BTW, who the Hell is WestUSue? People who live in glass houses shouldn’t use fake names.
    Best Regards,
    Bill White

  17. GoldBacon says:

    The best way to cut down on unwanted solicitors is to give residents an incentive to police the practice ourselves. Create a civil trespassing ordinance that allows homeowners who are solicited, and who have a “No Trespassing” sign conspicuously located on their property, to sue violators for $250-$500 each. Once it becomes a revenue generator for the people, you can bet that unwanted soliciting will cease to be a problem (if it even is now).

    This solution being proposed will create more problems than it solves. Added administrative burden for licensing/regulating solicitors. Increased burden on police officers to enforce. Increased likelihood that some bozo, loser “salesman” will cry racism, profiling, etc. and cause bad publicity and legal bills for the city. Etc.

    • Frank says:

      Interesting idea.
      Can a homeowner post a “No Trespassing” sign on the property” Better yet, could I post a “No Trespassing/No Soliciting” sign like commercial buildings do?
      I might just do that and place it next to my doorbell at my front door.

  18. Louisa says:

    “No Trespassing”
    Civil trespassing ordinance allows homeowners who are solicited, and who have a sign conspicuously located on their property, to sue violators for $250-$500 each.

    May I post this in my front window today?

    • Frank says:

      I just found this in the City of West University Ordinances:

      f)

      Fair notice; do-not-disturb list, signs. Fair notice, as mentioned above, may be given by any means reasonably designed to advise a person that commercial solicitation is not welcome. Such notice may be given orally, in writing, or by a sign. A person is presumed to have received fair notice that solicitation is not welcome at a residence:

      (1)

      If the address of that residence appears on the do-not-disturb list received by that person at the time of registration, as provided above; or

      (2)

      Where there is a sign meeting these criteria:

      a.

      The sign says “no solicitors;”

      b.

      It is plainly legible by persons with normal eyesight standing at the principal entrance to the residence; and

      c.

      It is affixed within 12 inches of the doorbell, door knob or latch of the outer door (or gate) at the principal entrance.

  19. Louisa says:

    “no solicitors;”
    Ringing the doorbell and/or knocking to solicit here will initiate call to West U. Police department

    I had two solicitors this Saturday at noon but no sign. I didn’t answer but still a call with my mother’s nurse at hospital was interrupted. Now a legible sign is affixed within 12 inches of our door bell and our door knob.
    Thank-you Frank!

  20. Cheryl says:

    I would like to have solicitors banned. But can the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts, and Little League be exempt??!!!

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