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Council Meeting 11-01-2011

2011/11/01

No agenda posted online, and I’m too tired to type it in right now, so I’ll just refer you to the Empire Tribune’s summary.

Highlights; discussion of new fire station contract, and discussion of the three proposed ordinances from the committee meeting last month.  Specifically, the Pawnbrokers and Other Dealers Ordinance, the Hotel Ordinance and the Parking Ordinance.  If any of these might apply to you or anyone you know, I hope you’ll show up at the meeting and make your opinion heard.

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Followup to 10-18-2011 Committee Work Session

2011/10/19

My comments in blue, as always.

I. Call to Order
II. PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE (Alan Nix, Chairman; Joe Cude; Scott Evans; Alan Nash)
A. Amendment No. 5 to the Agreement for Operations, Maintenance and Management Services by OMI, Inc.

Basically, OMI wants a 3% increase in their fees for wastewater treatment and sludge hauling, which was already anticipated in the current budget.

B. Unaccounted Water Use

I didn’t quite catch all of the details on this, so I’ll refrain from commenting for now.

III. PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY COMMITTEE (Russ McDanel, Chairman; Joe Cude; Malcolm Cross; Martha Taylor) (I’m assuming they meant to close the parentheses here.)

A. Pawnbrokers and Other Dealers Ordinance

Well, this generated a nice bit of public participation.  Representatives were present from South Loop Pawn Shop, Richard’s Jewelry, and Erath Iron.  I think that was the biggest crowd I’ve seen at a committee meeting so far.  All were concerned about how this proposal would affect their business, and all had valid questions about how it would be applied.  It will be held for further discussion and hopefully there will be even more public participation in rewriting this ordinance to be more appropriate for Stephenville.

Personally, I like the proposed system from a technical standpoint, but only if it can be implemented on a voluntary basis, with the ability to opt into only those portions the business owner doesn’t have to devote too much time or expense to.  The potential cost to businesses that don’t already maintain electronic inventory and/or have the ability to digitally photograph purchased items within 48 hours of purchase is just too high.

Full text of the ordinance with my comments is here.

B. Hotel Registration Ordinance

Also held over for more discussion and editing.  Hopefully we can get a few folks from the local lodging businesses to comment on this one soon.  Full text with comments here.

C. Large Vehicles on Road Ordinance

And again, this one needs more discussion.  Full text with comments and comparison to the existing ordinance here.

IV. Adjourn

Proposed “Large Vehicles on Road” Ordinance

2011/10/19

Existing ordinance in black, proposed ordinance in red, my comments in blue.

CHAPTER
72: STOPPING, STANDING AND PARKING

ORDINANCE NO.2011-

AN ORDINANCE REGULATING THE PARKING OF CERTAIN VEHICLES UPON ANY PUBLIC STREET OR RIGHT OF WAY WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS IN ORDER TO IMPROVE TRAFFIC FLOW, INCREASE VISIBILITY, AND IMPROVE THE APPEARANCE OF NEIGHBORHOODS; AND PROVIDING A PENALTY FOR VIOLATION.

CHAPTER 72- PARKING of CERTAIN VEHICLES

GENERAL PROVISIONS

72.01 DEFINITIONS.

For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.

72.01. Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.

Bus. Every motor vehicle designed for carrying more than ten (10) passengers and used for the transportation of persons.

Commercial Motor Vehicle. Any motor vehicle designed or used for the transportation of property, not including a passenger bus, passenger automobile, motorcycle, panel delivery truck, or pickup truck.

Curb. The lateral lines of a roadway, whether constructed above grade or not, which are not intended for vehicular travel.

New definitions.  Interesting that “commercial vehicle” excepts nearly every type of vehicle commonly “designed or used for the transportation of property” except tractor-semitrailer rigs.  I’m fairly certain there’s already a term somewhere that could be used to just say “tractor-semitrailer rigs.”

LOADING ZONE.  A space or section of the curb and adjacent street set aside for the exclusive use of loading or unloading persons, merchandise, supplies and materials.

Loading Zone. A space or section of the curb and adjacent street set aside for the exclusive use of loading or unloading persons, merchandise, supplies and materials.

Median Strip. That area or portion of a divided street, road, or highway within the City separating the two roadways of said street, road, or highway and shall be held to include the curb, if any, at the outer edge of said area.

New definitions.

OPERATOR.  Every individual who shall operate a vehicle as the owner thereof or as the agent, employee or permittee of the owner.

Operator. Every individual who shall operate a vehicle as the owner thereof or as the agent, employee or permittee of the owner, including a railroad train or vehicle being towed.

Apparently a railroad train or vehicle being towed can now be the operator of a vehicle.
At this point, I’d like to propose that a new city staff position be created, titled “City Fifth Grade English Teacher,” who shall review all proposed ordinances before the City Attorney gets them, and who shall have the authority to smack the writer of the ordinance (and the City Attorney) with a ruler as often as necessary.

PARK, PARKING.  The standing of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, otherwise than temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading passengers or merchandise.

Park, Parking. The standing of a vehicle, whether occupied or not, otherwise than temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading passengers or merchandise.

“While actually engaged in loading and unloading” is the key exception that people seem to be missing.  As you can see, the wording here is identical to the original ordinance.

Recreational Vehicle. A vehicle, towed or self-propelled, on its own chassis or attached to the chassis of another vehicle and designed or used for temporary dwelling, recreational or sporting purposes. This includes, but is not be limited to, travel trailers, pick-up campers, camping trailers, motor homes, converted trucks and buses, boats and boat trailers.

STANDARD OF TIME.  All hours mentioned in this chapter refer to and shall be determined by Central Standard Time as commonly known, except during any future time if any standard of time is established or proclaimed by the United States for an area including Stephenville, all such hours shall be determined by such officially proclaimed standard, so long as it remains in effect.

Standard of Time. All hours mentioned in this chapter refer to and shall be determined by Central Standard Time as commonly known, except during any future time if any standard of time is established or proclaimed by the United States for an area including Stephenville, all such hours shall be determined by such officially proclaimed standard, so long as it remains in effect.

Really? I’ve seen some odd contingency plans, but we’re concerned about time zones moving?  We’re what, 300 miles from the nearest time zone boundary, and somebody actually worried about this?  Believe me, if that happens, parking will be pretty low on the list of concerns for quite a while.

STREET.  Any public street or avenue located in the city and established for the use of vehicles.

Street. Any public street or avenue located in the city and established for the use of vehicles.

VEHICLE.  Any device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported upon a street or highway.

Vehicle. Any device in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported upon a street or highway.

72.02 RESTRICTIONS TO PARKING.

72.02 Restrictions.

(A) It shall be unlawful for any person or any owner to leave, park or stand any truck tractor, road tractor, truck trailer, semi-trailer, any other commercial motor vehicle with a rated capacity in excess of one ton according to the manufacturer’s classification, or any vehicles exceeding 25 feet in length, upon any public street or public right-of-way within any part of the city. This section shall not prevent the parking or standing of the above-described vehicles in such areas for the purpose of loading and unloading passengers, freight or merchandise.

A. lt shall be unlawful for any person or any owner to leave, park or stand any truck tractor, road tractor, truck trailer, semi-trailer, any other commercial motor vehicle with a rated capacity in excess of one ton according to the manufacturer’s classification, or any vehicles exceeding 25 feet in length, upon any public street or public right-of-way within any part of the city. This section shall not prevent the parking or standing of the above-described vehicles in such areas for the purpose of loading and unloading passengers, freight or merchandise.

Aside from the formatting, I don’t see any difference in these.  This would also apply to virtually all of the large vehicles I’ve seen causing traffic issues.

(B) It shall be unlawful for any person or any owner to leave, park, or stand any mobile home, motor home, travel trailer, boat trailer, stock trailer, or any other type of trailer upon any public street or public right- of-way in the city within any area zoned as a residential district or where the primary use is residential. However, there are two exceptions to the foregoing. A recreational vehicle owned by an out-of-town guest of a residential property owner may be parked on the street in front of the property he or she owns for a period not to exceed five days, providing such parking does not impair the regular flow of traffic. A property owner may also park a trailer (not a semi-trailer) in front of property he or she owns for a period not to exceed 24 hours, for a maximum of 72 hours in a year, providing that such parking does not impair the regular flow of traffic.

(C) This section shall not apply to street construction, maintenance and repair equipment used by public service utility companies engaged in repairing or extending public service utilities. Nor shall it apply to motor buses when taking on or discharging passengers at customary bus stops.

B. A person shall not stop, stand, or park a vehicle (if the vehicle is a truck tractor, road tractor, trailer, semi-trailer, pole trailer, bus, motor home, mobile home or any commercial motor vehicle, as said terms are defined in 72.01 of this Chapter or the Transportation Code), upon a public street, alley, parkway, boulevard measuring 45 feet or less in width, or public property. This section shall not authorize the parking of mobile homes in any location, public or private, unless pursuant to a permitted use authorized by the Zoning Ordinance or regulations of the Building Official. This section shall not apply to street construction, maintenance and repair equipment; trucks, equipment, trailers, and vehicles used by public service utility companies engaged in repairing or extending public service utilities; motor buses when taking on or
discharging passengers at customary bus stops; other vehicles when actually parked at a designated loading zone; municipal vehicles in the course of performance of City business; or when it is lawful to park a commercial motor vehicle for the purpose of accepting or delivering transportable goods.
However, there are two exceptions to the foregoing. A recreational vehicle owned by an out-of-town guest of a residential property owner may be parked on the street in front of the property he or she owns for a period not to exceed five calendar days, providing such parking does not impair the regular flow of traffic. A property owner may also park a trailer (not a semi-trailer) in front of property he or she owns for a period not to exceed 24 hours, for a maximum of 72 hours in a year, providing that such parking does not impair the regular flow of traffic.

The proposed (B) appears to just be a long-winded version of the original (B) with buses and truck tractors added, and a rewording of the original (C) rolled into it. To me, it would seem more productive to simply add those vehicle types to (A), retaining 72.15-72.18 to allow certain exceptions for loading zones. 
In my opinion, the key phrase that should be present in every section and which should be the key determining factor in all cases is “providing that such parking does not impair the regular flow of traffic.”  I don’t care if it’s a Peterbilt or a Prius, if it’s parked in a way that disrupts traffic unnecessarily, it should be ticketed and towed.  Since the primary determining characteristics of a vehicle for this purpose would be length and width, I don’t see any real harm in simply defining vehicles by their dimensions rather than by subjective classes.

C. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the vehicle had a mechanical defect, making it unsafe to proceed further, in which event it shall be lawful to stand or park the vehicle during the time necessary to make emergency repairs.

This would probably benefit from a bit more clarification too; if your Accord stalls in the middle of Harbin while you’re hauling the Yellowjackets’ defensive line to practice, push it out of the road.  Obviously, this is not a reasonable demand to make of a paraplegic in an F350, but it should be fairly easy to write in a requirement to move it if such movement can be reasonably and safely accomplished.

D. This section shall not apply to street construction, maintenance and repair equipment; trucks, equipment, trailers, and vehicles used by public service utility companies engaged in repairing or extending public service utilities; motor buses when taking on or discharging passengers at customary bus stops; other vehicles when actually parked at a designated loading zone; municipal vehicles in the course of performance of City business; or when it is lawful to park a commercial motor vehicle for the purpose of accepting or delivering transportable goods.

These exceptions are already made in the proposed (B) for residential areas.  It would make more sense, and make (B) more readable if they were removed from that section entirely, since (D) would appear to cover all areas.

72.03. Penalty

A violation of this ordinance shall constitute a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punishable by a fine as provided for in state statute.

72.15 MARKING OF LOADING ZONES.

Loading zones for handling of passengers and heavy or bulky merchandise, supplies and materials shall be laid out and marked with a sign with the words “Loading Zone,” posted to designate the loading zone.

72.16 TIME LIMIT FOR LOADING ZONE.

 (A) When using loading zones for the loading and unloading of heavy or bulky merchandise, supplies and materials, all loading and unloading shall be performed in an expeditious manner and no vehicle may remain in a loading zone either for a period of time longer than necessary to expeditiously load or unload the same, or while the operator thereof is soliciting or engaged otherwise than in the loading and unloading of the vehicle; provided, that a reasonable time shall be allowed for giving or securing a delivery receipt.

This only applies to loading zones anyway, but I’m not seeing how anyone could construe it to include a driver parking on the street while eating lunch, or parking on the street for several hours waiting for a delivery site to open.

(B) It shall be unlawful for any operator to stand or park a vehicle in a loading zone for the purpose of loading or unloading passengers for a period in excess of two minutes.

72.17 HOURS FOR LOADING ZONES.

The provisions of § 72.16 shall apply on all days and during all hours, except that the Mayor is authorized to cause to be painted on the curb and/or adjacent street surface of any loading zone the words: “Loading Zone. Reserved  – a.m. to  –  p.m.” and insert therein the numbers indicating the hours so reserved. Such reserved hours shall be in effect only so long as the words and figures indicating the hours of reservation are legible.

72.18 USE OF PARKING SPACES FOR LOADING AND UNLOADING.

It shall be unlawful for any operator of a vehicle to stop or park such vehicle in a parking space for the purpose of loading or unloading merchandise, supplies and materials, except when the place of business where such merchandise is to be loaded or unloaded does not have either a usable entrance from an adjoining alley or an officially designated loading zone on that part of the street adjacent to such place of business, the operator of a vehicle may, without making a deposit in a meter or meters, use not to exceed two parking spaces for loading or unloading at such place of business for the length of time necessary to expeditiously load or unload such merchandise, and give or secure a delivery receipt therefor; but it shall be unlawful for any operator to use more than two parking spaces for such loading or unloading or for a longer period of time than is necessary to expeditiously load or unload such merchandise and give or secure a delivery receipt therefor.

72.19 SPECIAL LOADING ZONES ESTABLISHED.

(A) Loading zones may be established in prohibited parking areas adjacent to businesses situated on either Washington or Graham Street where there are no alleys adequate for loading and unloading goods and merchandise by application of any owner of a business requiring a loading zone for such purposes. The application shall be made to the Chief of Police and the loading zone shall be designated if he/she finds it is necessary for loading and unloading purposes. Should any application be denied by the Chief of Police, the applicant shall have the right to appeal from the ruling of the Chief of Police to the City Council
which shall hear and determine such application. Any zone so designated shall be used only for loading or unloading purposes.

(B) A loading zone is established on the south curb of the 1100 block of West Tarleton Street at its intersection with McIlhaney Street, then east 70 feet.

(C) The west curb of the 100 and 200 blocks of South Paddock Street from West Washington Street to West McNeill Street is hereby declared to be and is hereby designated as a loading and unloading zone from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

(D) The east curb of the 100 and 200 blocks of South Baxter Street, from West Washington Street to West McNeill Street, is hereby declared to be and is hereby designated as a loading and unloading zone from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

These loading zone designations are now 35 years old.  If these sections are to be retained, then it’s probably time to revisit the reasoning for them and determine if any need to be moved, removed, re-marked, expanded or added.

Proposed Hotel Registration Ordinance

2011/10/19

My comments in blue.  Should have been subtitled “Ihre Papieren, bitte.”  Frankly, this seems about as intrusive as – and far less potentially effective than – checking IDs at the front door of WalMart to look for fugitives.

ORDINANCE NO.2011-

AN ORDINANCE PROVIDING STANDARDS FOR MAINTAINING A HOTEL; PROVIDING FOR THE REGULATION OF HOTEL GUEST REGISTRATION; MAKING SAID RECORDS AND REGISTRATION AVAILABLE TO THE POLICE DEPARTMENT; AND PROVIDING A PENALTY FOR VIOLATION

CHAPTER 117. HOTEL REGULATIONS

117.01 Definitions.
The following words or phrases, whenever used in this article, shall be construed as defined in this section:

Hotel. A building having three or more rooms in which members of the public may temporarily obtain sleeping accommodations for consideration. The term includes those establishments commonly known as hotels, motels, tourist homes, tourist houses, tourist courts, lodging houses, or inns.

Official photo identification. A driver’s license, passport, or other government issued identification document.

117.02 Maintenance standards in general.
Every person who owns, manages or operates any hotel in the city shall at all times keep and maintain it, and each and every room, apartment or place and all fixtures, furniture, bedding and other things used in connection with the business in a thoroughly clean and sanitary condition.

Aren’t there already health regulations that deal with this at the state level?  What is “thoroughly clean and sanitary?”

117.03 Guest registration.
A. No person registering in a hotel shall do so or attempt to do so under any false name or identity.

Well, that should keep out all the bad people.  Especially those celebrities who use false names to check into hotels so they can do such nefarious things as get a quiet night’s sleep without fans showing up at all hours of the night.  Of course, fugitives will be so terrified of the potential misdemeanor charge that they will either use their real names or take their hotel/motel tax dollars elsewhere.

No person registering in a hotel shall present for the purpose of registration, false identification or any identification which misrepresents or fails to disclose the registrant’s true identity.

Last I checked, it was already illegal to present a fake ID for any reason.  I’d also say we need that fifth grade English teacher to explain that something which fails to disclose a person’s identity is, by definition, not identification.

B. It shall be the duty of the owner or operator of any hotel as defined in this chapter to keep a register of persons accommodated in the hotel for the purpose of verifying registrants’
identities. The register shall include, for all guest rooms and guest stays, both:

Okay, this is just good business sense, but if a business owner wants to take a chance with their own property, that is their right.

1. The name of the registrant, the type of official photo identification presented and any personal identification number contained thereupon, the registrant’s permanent residence
address, an attached photocopy of the official photo identification that was presented, and the expected duration of the registrant’s stay in such establishment; or, in the alternative,
2. Documentation that the person guaranteed payment using a valid credit card issued in the name of the registrant as provided by the registrant, which at the time of registration, was
verified through the hotel’s customary credit card verification procedures.

We can’t demand that of someone wanting to vote, so why should checking into a motel for the night be harder than picking a President?

No owner or operator, or his employee, agent or representative shall knowingly write, cause to be written, or permit to be written, in any register in any hotel any other or different name or designation than the true name of the person so registered therein.

So if you recognize [insert celebrity here] but still allow them to sign in under an assumed name, you’re now committing a crime too.

C. The record or register shall be available at all times for inspection by any officer of the police department of the city, and shall be maintained by the hotel’s owner for a period of two years.

Oh come on; I can make it across town on a bicycle in half an hour.  If they’re going to a two year response time, they need to start using some of that bike-and-walk fuel so many of them are hoarding and sell off the cars.

D. Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine as defined by state statute.

Proposed “Pawnbrokers and Other Dealers” Ordinance

2011/10/17

My comments in blue.

I should add that the comments among the text were written before the meeting.  While Chief Bridges claims that only four or five businesses in the city would be affected by the proposed ordinance, I can think of at least six off the top of my head, even if some of the exceptions are applied very loosely.  He has also recommended removing metal recyclers from the list due to their existing state reporting requirements.

South Loop Pawn Shop, Richard’s Jewelery and Erath Iron all had people present to discuss this proposal.  In spite of the chief’s claim that only “four or five” businesses would be affected, he did admit that even those few businesses had not been contacted for input regarding the ordinance.  I hope that we will be able to get all of the businesses that will potentially be affected by this ordinance to come to the next few meetings and participate in the discussion. 

As I said in my other post, I don’t object to the recordkeeping system itself, but I believe that it should be a purely voluntary system in which business owners would be allowed to opt into only those parts which will not cause too much of a labor or cost burden to them, and I feel that some of the restrictions on what may be purchased are somewhat shortsighted.

ORDINANCE NO.2011—_

AN ORDINANCE REGULATING PAWNBROKERS AND OTHER DEALERS; PROVIDING FOR RECORDKEEPING REQUIREMENTS AS WELL AS REQUIREMENTS FOR PURCHASING, RECEIVING, AND ACCEPTING PROPERTY HEREIN DESCRIBED; AND PROVIDING A PENALTY FOR VIOLATION HEREOF.

Because, as we all know, the best way out of a recession is to pile a lot more unpaid work and some extra expenses on the small businesses.

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF STEPHENVILLE, TEXAS:

CHAPTER 118. PAWNBROKERS AND OTHER DEALERS

118.01. Definitions.
The following words or phrases, whenever used in this article, shall be construed as defined in this section:

Chief of Police. The Chief of Police of the City of Stephenville, Texas, or his designated representative.

Crafted precious metal dealer. Any person who engages in the business of purchasing and selling crafted precious metal as defined in V.A.T.C. Occupations Code 1956.051, excluding those exceptions found in 1956.052 et seq., of such Code, as amended.

Metal recycling entity. Anyone, who from a fixed location engages in the business of utilizing machinery or equipment for the processing of or manufacturing of iron, steel, or nonferrous metallic scrap and whose principal product is scrap iron, scrap steel or nonferrous metallic scrap for smelting purposes.

Pawnbroker. Any person as defined in the Texas Pawnshop Act, V.A.T.C. Finance Code 371.001 et seq., as amended.

Person. An individual, corporation, partnership, or other legal entity, or any of their employees
or agents.

Secondhand dealer. Any person engaged in the business of buying and selling used or secondhand personal property, or lending money on the security of personal property deposited with the person.

Secondhand metal dealer. A person who operates or maintains a scrap metal yard or other place in which used or previously purchased metal items or scrap metal is collected or kept for shipment, sale, or transfer.

118.02 Recordkeeping requirements.

A. Except as otherwise herein provided, every person licensed or transacting any business as a crafted precious metal dealer, metal recycling entity, pawnbroker, secondhand dealer or second hand metal dealer within the city limits shall, beginning sixty (60) days following the effective date of this ordinance, maintain an electronic inventory-tracking system and transmit all information required by this article via computer to the entity designated by the chief of police.

Most of the small shops don’t maintain any sort of electronic inventory, and even those who do don’t have the ability to enter all the extra information this ordinance would require. 

B. The information required to be transmitted by this section for crafted precious metals dealers, pawnbrokers, and secondhand dealers must include:

1. The date and time of each transaction in which personal property is purchased, pledged, or received for the sum of $25 or more (Or other consideration equivalent to that amount).

2. An accurate and detailed description of any and all property purchased or acquired during the regular course of business for the sum of $25 or more (or other consideration equivalent to that amount), including any and all trademarks, identification numbers, serial numbers, model numbers, brand names, and other identifying marks.

3.  The actual price paid or the amount of money involved in each such transaction.

4. The full name, address, telephone number, date of birth, driver’s license number or state-issued identification card, and physical description of the person with whom each such purchase or transaction is consummated.

The pawnshops I’ve dealt with already provide the information in items 1-4 to police weekly.  Many other secondhand dealers often buy bulk lots of miscellaneous items for which this type of recordkeeping would be an unbearable burden.  If you buy a truckload of assorted stuff for $100, taking the chance that you’ll even get your money back off of it, do you really need the extra hassle of having to go through all of it within 48 hours to create a complete and accurate electronic inventory for the police?

5. A digital photograph of any item not bearing a unique serial number purchased or acquired for a sum of money more than $50.

This is too vague, even if it could be implemented reasonably.  Can I just take a picture of the whole shop every other day and let them pick out what they’re interested in?

6.  Such other information as the chief of police may reasonably deem necessary to ensure compliance with the laws of the State of Texas and ordinances of the City of Stephenville.

Of course, they can’t even be troubled to come up with everything they want in time to publish an ordinance, so there’s a built-in opportunity for abuse.

C.  The information required to be transmitted by sub-section (b) of this Section shall be transmitted within forty-eight (48) hours of the date and time a purchase or transaction is consummated.

D.  The information required to be transmitted for metal recycling entities and secondhand metal dealers shall be the information that is required of such businesses by Chapter 1956 of V.A.T.C. Occupations Code, as amended.

E.  The information required to be transmitted by subsection (d) of this Section shall be transmitted by the date and time prescribed by Chapter 1956 of such Code.

118.03. Defenses.
This article shall not be applicable to:

A. Automobile dealerships.

B. The sale of aluminum cans.

C. Charitable or eleemosynary organizations.

If it’s not a serious financial burden on the other businesses in spite of the current economic situation, then why do the charities need an exemption?

D. Used or secondhand clothing businesses.

E. Used or secondhand furniture businesses.

F. Antique dealers.

Why isn’t “antique dealer” defined?  What is an antique for the purpose of this ordinance?  Looking around, I see several common definitions for antiques, but few useful legal ones, and for that matter, the legal definition of an “antique firearm” in 18 USC specifically includes replicas.  What happens if an antique dealer buys an item that isn’t an antique, or that the chief doesn’t think of as an antique?

118.04. Government or utility property.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person licensed or transacting any business as a crafted precious metal dealer, pawnbroker, or secondhand dealer within the city limits to purchase or receive any item of property on which words or markings appear indicating ownership of such item by the United States, the State of Texas, or any of its political subdivisions or agencies, or any public utility company, except where the person offering such item for sale or transfer provides: written authorization from the governmental entity, agency, or utility to convey the item on behalf of the entity, agency, or utility; or, (2) a valid receipt from the governmental entity, agency, or utility evidencing such entity, agency, or utility has conveyed or relinquished ownership of the item.

Lots of military surplus collectibles have “U.S. Government Property” or similar wording, but relatively few have any documentation available.  For that matter, having such a record often doubles or triples the value of a collectible item, specifically because it is so uncommon.

B. It shall not be a defense to prosecution under sub-section of this section that an item of property contains no words or markings indicating ownership if the person who purchased or received the item knows or should reasonably be expected to know such item is owned by the United States, the State of Texas, or any of its political subdivisions or agencies, or any public utility company.

118.05. Acceptance of property sealed or unopened in its original packaging.

It shall be unlawful for any person licensed or transacting any business as a crafted precious metal dealer, pawnbroker, or secondhand dealer within the city limits to purchase or receive an item of property sealed or unopened in its original packaging unless the person conveying such item presents a receipt or proof of purchase for the item.

Again we get into the problem of the secondhand dealer buying bulk lots; often a bulk lot from an estate sale or auction will include some stock from a store, or just some items the prior owner had bought in bulk.  These are typically only indicated on the receipt as “miscellaneous items” so the buyer has no real proof of what the lot was.

118.06. Acceptance of property inscribed with a company name.

It shall be unlawful for any person licensed or transacting any business as a crafted precious metal dealer, pawnbroker, or secondhand dealer within the city limits to purchase or receive an item of property bearing the name, initials, or logo of a business entity unless the person conveying such item provides at the time of conveyance a valid receipt indicating lawful ownership, a signed statement attesting to lawful ownership, or written authorization from the owner to convey the item on such owner’s behalf.

Anyone who has bought old tools knows how common it is for these items to bear the logo of a company that no longer exists.  Just how does one go about obtaining written authorization from a long-deceased sole proprietor of some repair company or a dissolved corporation?

118.07. Penalty

A violation of this ordinance shall constitute a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punishable by a fine as provided in state statute.

October 18, 2011 Committee Work Session Agenda

2011/10/16

PDF on city’s site.

My comments in blue, as always.

I. Call to Order
II. PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE (Alan Nix, Chairman; Joe Cude; Scott Evans; Alan Nash)
A. Amendment No. 5 to the Agreement for Operations, Maintenance and Management Services by OMI, Inc.
B. Unaccounted Water Use

Judging from my bill I think I know where they’ve been charging it to.

III. PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY COMMITTEE (Russ McDanel, Chairman; Joe Cude; Malcolm Cross; Martha Taylor
A. Pawnbrokers and Other Dealers Ordinance

Wow, that’s vague.  What are “Other Dealers?”  Are they being banned?  Must all “Pawnbrokers and Other Dealers” be kept on a leash or in a special enclosure, with current vaccination records on file?  Can you be less specific?

B. Hotel Registration Ordinance

Well, apparently they can be less specific.

C. Large Vehicles on Road Ordinance

And even less specific than the others.  What’s “large” and what’s going to be required of it?  An agenda item isn’t particularly helpful if people can’t even tell whether they might be affected by it.

IV. Adjourn

Followup to 10-4-2011 Council Meeting

2011/10/05

Not much to report on the meeting, really.  Everything on the agenda passed unanimously with very little discussion.  No one speaking at Citizens’ General Discussion or during the public hearing.