Charlotte City Council Community Safety Committee Meeting Summary May 24, 2007 COMMITTEE AGENDA TOPICS I. Subject: Littering Signs The Committee approved the staff’s recommendation to amend Chapters 11 & 15 for hotels in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, NC. Staff Resource: Keith Parker, Walter Abernethy Action: II. Subject: Action: Door-to-Door Solicitation The Committee approved the staff’s recommendation to amend Chapters 11 & 15 for hotels in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, NC. Staff Resource: Keith Parker, Walter Abernethy COMMITTEE INFORMATION Present: Absent: Time: Turner, Kinsey, Dulin, Mitchell Foxx 12:10-1:00 p.m. ATTACHMENTS 1. 2. Agenda Handouts Community Safety Committee Meeting Summary for May 24, 2007 Page 2 DISCUSSION HIGHLIGHTS I. Clean Streets – Littering signs Committee Discussion: Assistant City Manager Keith Parker introduced the presenters and told the committee staff needs directions from them. The littering item came up at a Council meeting that was referred to the Community Safety Committee. Catherine Zanga, Police Attorney’s office and Rob Phocas, City Attorney’s office started the presentation with background information on laws. The city is covered with the State and local statute. GS 14-399 covers all examples of littering – private & public property. A driver is presumed to be the violator. The state has a distinction on accidental and intentional; the city does not. A class 3 misdemeanor in the city code isn’t as strong as the State statute. Infractions fines are lower with the first offense. Under the exception price, if someone throws out a half eaten apple, it is trash and violates the statute. Covered load is under GS 20-116 and does not limit it to gravel. $100 penalty for covered loads and $25.00 penalty for littering under the city code. We can have signs with up to $1,000.00 for the first offense. A. Dulin: C. Zanga: Operator and owner are two different things. Is the operator okay? Yes, unless police can prove otherwise. W. Turner: R. Phocas: When did we adopt these codes? 1985. W. Turner: R. Phocas: K. Parker: How often do we modify? We can check. We can modify through efforts like this. Mitchell: K. Parker: Why did we adopt a lesser penalty? They were adopted separate times. Mitchell: C. Zanga: Can we raise the penalty? Yes, we can. With civil penalties, the city can decide. With criminal penalties, we will need to go to Raleigh. K. Parker: C. Zanga: How likely is it for a judge to impose the highest penalty? It depends on resources. We don’t have stats on citations. Council member Turner added that it depends on the circumstance. Mr. Parker mentioned CMPD has authority to regulate on State and local roads. Council can raise the penalty on the civil side. Community Safety Committee Meeting Summary for May 24, 2007 Page 3 A. Dulin: C. Zanga: Is it illegal to toss out a cigarette butt? Yes. Turner: What about improper hauling of furniture and losing the mattress on the road? It is accidental under GS 14-399 and the violator will get community service. C. Zanga: Council member Turner continued with how to prevent the improper hauling and wanted to know how our officers handled such a thing. Officer Eubanks added that citations are written when officers see this on the roads. Catherine added that it does not fall under littering. Council member Turner said that is good because it should be prevented before it becomes litter. Brian Kelly, CDOT, continued the presentation with signage. CDOT installs the littering signs on city maintained streets. They are placed in problem areas. Some areas are brought to our attention by citizen requests to investigate a problem. CDOT does not install signs on the highway. CDOT puts signage on secondary roads. Special services will pick up the trash. CDOT will put up the signs. Once the signs are placed, folks realize they are being watched. A. Dulin: B. Kelly: W. Turner: Can we change the words on the signs? We generally stay within the NC DOT language. There is a cost with the size of the signs. Brian added that signage can become clutter. CDOT will take certain measures to prevent folks from dumping stuff. There are other initiatives with the littering campaign. Turner: B. Kelly: K. Parker: Do we go through CDOT to get the signs on the interstate? We would have to ask NC DOT. We can follow up with NC DOT. A. Dulin: If people out in the county are dumping on private property, does the city pickup? No. The property owner is responsible. Special services will assist with large items. B. Kelly: P. Kinsey: B. Kelly: Can they call Solid Waste? Yes. If the request is a bulky item pick up, we will get it. Mitchell: B. Kelly: W. Turner: With “Adopt a street” how many times do you clean the street? I don’t know the details. Neighborhood Development leads that program. Clean twice a year or get revoked. Community Safety Committee Meeting Summary for May 24, 2007 Page 4 Officer Don Eubanks concluded the presentation with the enforcement efforts from 2006. Officers will do a June 6 littering campaign with Huntersville Police Department, NC DOT, etc. June 6, 9:00 am will start with a media briefing in the Law Enforcement Center in classroom A. Staff will put a blurb in the memo as a reminder. Chief Stephens has approved quarterly littering campaigns. Assistant City Manager Parker gave an example of writing a citation for a tossed apple core. Officer Eubanks explained that would be three (3) hours total to attend court to make sure there is a penalty. Mr. Parker asked the committee if they should have an officer spend three hours chasing down the violator. Council member Turner said we have nothing to do with the backlog in the courts. Let them do their jobs…they can prioritize. We can’t tell them how to do their job. Officer Eubanks said CMPD meets monthly with Keep Charlotte Beautiful (KCB). KCB talks about neighborhood clean up such as housing, yards, cars on the lawn. He also said the officer would write in a box that the ticket was given during the littering sweep so that the DA does not dismiss the charge. The violator will get a letter from the Chief. Mr. Parker asked the committee for directions. Do you want enforcement or education? Do you want staff to come back with penalty levels? Council member Dulin said education can be relatively inexpensive by putting it in the water bill, using Channel 16, contacting the Boy Scouts troops. Council member Turner said the current efforts are appropriate. We need to use Channel 16. We need support from the national programs to be cohesive with the local programs. If the Chief would ask at every roll call for the officers to be more aware. Staff will contact the State about littering signs on I-77 and a section of I-85, invite the council members to the June 6 sweep and bring back more information on penalties. II. Door-to-Door Solicitation Judy Emken, Police Attorney’s Office, defined peddler as someone traveling with inventory. Between April 2007 and May 2007, there have been 170 calls from citizens about posing sales people. An enacted in 1985, required peddlers to get a business license. In the current peddlers’ ordinance, exempts magazine sellers from the fine. The business, however, must have a business license. The first amendment protects religious and charitable organizations. Ms. Emken added that operating without a business license is a misdemeanor. There is a State trespassing charge if the solicitor refuses to leave. Sgt. Stanke added that the solicitor must be on the property when the officer arrives. A property owner may use signage; however, it doesn’t deter them from coming into the neighborhood. A. Dulin: Stanke: Does the person need to be on the property? Yes. Because it is a misdemeanor charge. Community Safety Committee Meeting Summary for May 24, 2007 Page 5 A. Dulin: J. Emken: Do we have a database of citations given to solicitors or businesses? We do not have a list of businesses that received citations. K. Parker: J. Emken: Stanke: Would that apply to a teenager asking to cut grass? Yes, it is within the city. You can’t distinguish to just magazine sellers It will also take someone to report it. Ms. Emken added that trick-or-treaters have been mentioned as solicitors. Sgt. Stanke added children aren’t asking for money. Police get called about a lot where we need to use discretion. There is a State statute that gives the city the ability to craft an ordinance. If we change the ordinance, the County is concerned abut staff. A business license is needed from the City and the County. Council member Dulin said he would like to continue with the new time frame and he would like it to be more difficult for them. Council member Dulin also added the time change is a safety concern. Judy said that would still require an ordinance. Council member Turner said this may not be the answer for our short staffed police department to create another ordinance that we can’t enforce. If there is an ordinance that relates to solicitors, we can do something because he has committed a crime -- If you make it a violation to not have a business license. He also said the same ordinance should apply to solicitors. The most important piece is education. Judy added that any change will not stop magazine sales. Religious groups do not need to register for a license. Those are protected by “free speech.” Council member Dulin asked to add a time restriction to the door-to-door sales (9:00 am to 5:00 pm). Staff does not have a recommendation for you today. We can come back with the cost of staffing and fines recovery. The next meeting is June 28, 12:00 pm. The meeting adjourned at 2:10 pm.