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Grandview council approves ordinance regulating solicitation on public property

GRANDVIEW - People looking to solicit donations in Grandview are going to have to jump through a few hoops before they are allowed to hit the streets.

Tuesday night, Grandview City Council approved a new ordinance regulating charitable solicitors. The ordinance makes it so people out gathering donations on public property will be required to register with the city 10 days before they are allowed to begin soliciting donations. When they register, the new ordinance states they will also have to pay a $10 permit fee. The permit is then valid for 90 days.

"So we'll know who these people are soliciting in our city," said Police Chief Dave Charvet.

The ordinance comes in response to a concern that was brought up several months ago by representatives from several of Grandview's downtown banks. At the time, bank employees said they were having issues with people aggressively soliciting outside of their establishments without permission.

Last May, the branch manager of the local U.S. Bank and the local Bank of America branch noted that these solicitors were affecting their business. They both voiced concern that customers were complaining about the solicitors, and that often times the solicitors stand close to the ATM machines, which were making customers feel uncomfortable.

Last night, Charvet said one of the things that was making it hard for the police to do anything about the solicitors is that they were setting up shop on public right-of-way, typically standing out on the sidewalk in front of the banks.

The new ordinance addresses these issues. Solicitors can no longer stand right up against the building, regardless of whether or not they are on public right-of-way.

"Now we have worked them a little farther away from the front door," Charvet said.

The ordinance now requires them to stand back 10 feet from any crosswalk, intersection or publicly used driveway, as well as 10 feet back from the entrance or exit to any building that is being used by the public. The ordinance adds it is "...unlawful to obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic," which was one of the major concerns brought to council by the local banks.

The ordinance also provides times when solicitation is not acceptable on public property or in city neighborhoods. According to the ordinance, it is unlawful to solicit in these areas between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Charvet explained that the ordinance adopted by council is similar to an ordinance already in place in the neighboring community of Sunnyside.

"It sets some restrictions for these solicitors," Charvet said.

Although the new ordinance is restrictive, Charvet and City Attorney Jack Maxwell agreed that it will not affect local community groups looking for support, such as local Girl Scout troops and the Grandview Kiwanis Club. One of the exemptions in the ordinance states that organizations that are operated for charitable purposes "other than the raising of funds" do not have to abide by the ordinance. However, when these groups solicit donations, the solicitors have to be members of the local organization and must be unpaid in order to still fall under the exemption.

"Hopefully this will work," Childress said. "If it doesn't we'll revisit it and fix it until it doesn't squeak."

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