Some Laws Not Enforced in Anchorage
Two assembly members want to repeal sidewalk-sitting law
ANCHORAGE - Two Anchorage Assembly members say they’d like to repeal a law that isn’t being enforced, even though they voted for it themselves. The law prohibits sitting on the sidewalk in downtown Anchorage.
Police have issued no citations since the law was enacted in December, but it’s not the only law that gets little follow through.
From political signs that don’t meet setback laws to people who donate to panhandlers from their cars, there are plenty of laws in Anchorage that are rarely – if ever – enforced.
“It’s frustrating,” said Anchorage Assemblywoman Debbie Ossiander. “When there are laws on the books and they aren’t enforced I think it makes people just disregard everything.”
Police say some laws are harder to enforce than others, like the new one that bans texting while driving.
“The person could just simply state that they were dialing a phone number, so that is a law that is on the books that probably it could be considered a difficult law,” said Anchorage Police spokeswoman Marlene Lammers.
But police say the law has a higher value because if a driver who is texting causes a fatal accident they can be charged with a much greater crime. Then there’s the sidewalk ordinance that Ossiander wants to repeal. Police haven’t issued any tickets but say simply having it on the books lets people know they mean business.
“If they comply with our demands we aren’t going to cite them,” says Lammers. “I mean we aren’t going to cite them because we don’t have any reason to if they have complied with what we have requested them to do.”
Ossiander says she’s willing to consider that some laws are simply tools, but says all laws need more scrutiny before they are passed.
“It’s sort of being done haphazardly without thorough analysis,” she says. “I’ve seen several ordinances presented on this will have a zero financial impact, but if you think about it a fair amount you really could question whether that's true or not.”
She says some laws need more teeth and others need to go. As for the sidewalk ordinance, the public will have another chance to weigh in. A public hearing has been scheduled for September 25.