During the regular monthly meeting of the Addis Mayor and Town Council, Wednesday, April 2, the council decided to revise an ordinance allowing door-to-door solicitations after learning of a U.S. Supreme Court decision wielding it unconstitutional for a municipality to prohibit such selling methods.
“Right now our ordinance is that we prohibit door-to-door solicitation,” said Addis Town Attorney Dana Larpenteur. “There have been some constitutional attacks on ordinances of our nature and they were successful. What this does is, this balances the first amendment and free speech right of solicitors… with the privacy, safety, health and welfare of the residents.”
Larpenteur said, during the discussion about the ordinance revision, that the now-former ordinance stated that it was “unlawful for any person to go in or upon a private residence not having been requested or invited to do so by the owner or occupant of the residence for the purpose of soliciting orders for the sale of goods, wears or merchandise.”
He added that the revised ordinance allows door-to-door sales and solicitation, but “requires registration of any solicitor in the town with the town prior to solicitation.”
He said that residents in the town limits will be able to post “no soliciting” signs on their property.
The revised ordinance “also allows any resident or occupant to get on the town no solicitation list,” Larpenteur said. “If you sign that list and put your home address… anyone coming into town that is licensed to solicit in town will be given that list of addresses only - not names - and they’re prohibited from soliciting there.”
He said that all solicitors in the town will be required to wear an identifying badge with photo identification and company name and contact information.
When asked by an audience member why they were revising the ordinance, Larpenteur said that it was a matter of constitutionality.
“We cannot prohibit uninvited home solicitation,” he said. “The Supreme Court said that is a violation of commercial free speech; but we can certainly balance that against the privacy and health and safety concerns of our citizens, and that’s what this ordinance is designed to do.”