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Local Policy Digest

By Matt Crawley and John Lunde | September 14, 2018
Topics: Local

MultiState's Local Policy Digest explores the top legislative developments from municipalities across the U.S.

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Boise, Idaho approves ordinance allowing city to remove abandoned bikes and scooters. On Tuesday, the Boise City Council passed an ordinance that will allow the city to remove abandoned bicycles, e-bikes, and e-scooters from bike racks and the public right-of-way.

According to the ordinance (p.1432), abandoned bicycles and scooters left on bike racks and in the public right-of-way contribute to urban blight, take up space, and create a safety hazard for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Consequently, the ordinance allows the city to remove obstructive units left unclaimed for more than 72 hours after the city has issued a preliminary notice of abatement.

Although the ordinance is not intended to regulate bike and scooter share companies, their units will also be subject to the ordinance. Additionally, companies and individuals will be responsible for paying the city’s costs of impoundment, storage, and recordkeeping before the city releases their units back to them.

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Ocean City, Maryland, bans aircraft landings within town limits. In response to an incident earlier this summer when a privately-owned helicopter landed in an Ocean City church parking lot to deposit passengers, the Ocean City Council passed an ordinance last week prohibiting aircraft landings within town limits. Although the church property owner approved the landing and the helicopter had the necessary space to land safely, the incident took place in a heavily populated resort area, alarming both motorists and pedestrians.

After looking into the matter, city officials learned that there was no law on the books expressly prohibiting such an incident from occurring. Additionally, Ocean City Municipal Airport Manager Jaime Giandomenico said that the landing was executed in full compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and he would not recommend the city taking punitive measures against the pilot.

Giandomenico did, however, concede that the landing was “disruptive” and the lack of coordination with the town was “not well thought out.” He deferred to the mayor and council on how to move forward.

The answer, according to the council, was a new ordinance (p. 40) that would limit the landing and launching of any aircraft capable of carrying one or more persons to spaces specifically designed for the purpose and areas removed from residential zones. Pilots in violation could expect to pay a fine of up to $1,000 for each landing and launch and be subject to a formal FAA complaint.

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 Janesville City Council considers anti-bullying ordinance. In the wake of the suicide of a local 12-year-old girl as a result of bullying, concerned parents in Janesville, Wisconsin, approached the city council demanding a city-wide ordinance that would fine parents if their child is found repetitively bullying other children. Parents stressed that the law was intended to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring again. “This is not a way to make revenue. It is a tool for the police and the parents,” said Bre Martinson, a local parent who lobbied for the ordinance.

The ordinance would give police the ability to issue warnings to offenders or their parents and, if necessary, issue fines between $50 and $500.

Despite the parents’ good intentions, not everyone is certain that the ordinance is the best policy. Janesville Assistant City Attorney Tim Wellnitz voiced concerns over a section of the ordinance that prescribes punishment for “‘acts of emotional distress,’ or knowingly doing something that would upset another person.” Wellnitz felt this went too far and advised that the ordinance not proceed to public hearing.

The city council, however, disagreed. Earlier this week, the council voted 6-1 to allow the ordinance to proceed to a public hearing on September 24, where members of the community, including school officials and law enforcement, will be able to testify.



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