March 3, 2011
Yesterday, the Phoenix City Council approved a new solicitation ordinance that will take effect on April 1, 2011. The new ordinance updates and enhances existing rules relating to commercial and noncommercial handbilling and imposes hours of operation, identification and conduct rules for commercial solicitors.
Beginning in April, commercial solicitors may go door to door only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. April 1 through Sept. 30, and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 1 through March 31. Also, every commercial solicitor over the age of 15 must carry some form of government-issued identification that includes a photo, date of birth and physical description. For solicitors under the age of 16, a school ID with a photograph, or regular government-issued ID, must be carried. The ID must be displayed to homeowners upon request for both age groups.
In addition, conduct rules are addressed in the new ordinance. Commercial solicitors must obey all signs that say no soliciting, which means that they can’t enter property or pass through doors or gates that display “no soliciting” signage. They must immediately leave the premises if asked to do so, must not make physical contact with any windows on the property, and may not falsely claim to have a government-issued business, regulatory or tax license.
The ordinance also calls for the city to create a process to track residents’ calls and complaints regarding door-to-door solicitors. This process will be used by the Police Department to help identify the scope of the problem on a citywide level.
The city of Phoenix respects the right of free speech and this ordinance will not infringe on First Amendment rights. Outreach efforts of religious and political organizations will not be impacted and solicitors selling or promoting a product or service to benefit an organization or school also are excluded under the ordinance. In addition, employees and agents of public utilities are exempted from some handbilling requirements when performing duties required by law or to communicate service interruptions to the public.
The new ordinance became necessary after the Council offices received complaints about unacceptable and illegal solicitor behavior, which included refusing to leave the premises upon request, using profane language and intimidating tactics. The city created a working group of residents from each of the eight council districts along with city staff, and headed by Councilmembers Claude Mattox and Tom Simplot. The working group met over a period of nine months and hosted numerous public meetings to gather public input. Based on the input received, recommendations were provided to the Council subcommittees, all of which are included in the new ordinance.
“This ordinance was created to not only protect residents from illegal solicitors, but to also protect legitimate businesses,” said Councilman Mattox. “Businesses who rely on door-to-door selling will still have access to homeowners, but the new rules are clearly defined to protect them as well.”
|Stephanie Ribodal Romero||602-261-8512|