Monday, June 8, 2009

Ordinance Awards

While browsing the City of Westbrook's 616-page charter and ordinance code for a couple side projects, I compiled the first--and likely last--edition of the Ordinance Awards. And the winners are:

Best Ordinance Title: Bitches in Heat.
Talk about an ordinance ripe with opportunities for out-of-context quotes: "The owner of any bitch in heat shall keep the same confined or on a leash at all times and shall not permit such dog to be at large within the city or on any premises other than those of the owner. Each bitch found in violation hereof is hereby declared a nuisance and shall be impounded, and the owner shall be deemed guilty of a civil infraction." Just think of all the possibilities a strategically-placed ellipsis here and a sentence-killing period there could accomplish... (Sec. 4-38)

Least Enforced Ordinance: Spitting in Public Spaces
Though it faced stiff competition from pretty much every ordinance pertaining to bicycles (especially the seven sections governing bike inspections, registrations, and license plates), the ordinance barring people from spitting "upon any floor of any public building or place of amusement or upon any sidewalk," wins--by a cherry pit spit. (Sec. 22-9)

The Go Faster! Award: Ice Cream Trucks' Permitted Sales Locations
Sure, residents generally want the speed limits on their streets to decrease. But I'd submit that's only because they're unaware of the fact that ice cream trucks are allowed to sell ice cream only on residential streets with a speed limit of 30 MPH or less. (Sec. 20-42.A)

Ordinance Most In Need of Revision: Farmers' Market Location
This is a very subjective category, because I bet (good thing I didn't just write that word while standing in the streets, as I'd be violating the "Games of Chance in Streets" ordinance, Sec. 22-4) fifty people would pick seventy-five different ordinances they'd want to revise. Nevertheless, the ordinance requiring any farmers' market to be located in the CVS parking lot alongside William Clarke Drive has been a minor pet peeve of mine for some time. (Sec. 20-156)

Anti-Social Behavior Most in Need of an Ordinance: Littering
Even though I am among those who think the City's list ordinances could probably use some trimming, this is one annoying behavior that I think can use some municipal muscle and enforcement.

- John C.L. Morgan

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