Peddlers ordinance sent to city council

A revised "peddlers and solicitors" ordinance will be the subject of a Sept. 22 Sequim city council public hearing set for 6 p.m., in the Sequim Transit Center, 190 Cedar St.

The Sequim Planning Commission voted 6-1 at a previous meeting to send the revised ordinance to the council after tweaking it since mid-July. Planning commissioner Dick Foster voted "no."

The revised ordinance allows soliciting only from 8 a.m.-7 p.m., requires applicants to provide two photographs but not fingerprints and undergo a criminal background check.

It also bars anyone from getting a license if the person has been convicted of a felony in the past 10 years that's "related to the position."

The ordinance's latest draft also shortens the time period for a background check from 30 days to five days and removes a proposed cash bond option for getting a license before that investigation is complete.

At Monday's meeting, legal intern Christina Nelson discussed several changes proposed by the commission at its Aug. 5 meeting and addressed others brought up that night including the removal of a requirement for applicants to be fingerprinted.

Planning commission chairman Larry Freedman asked why the fingerprinting requirement was removed.

Nelson said the city would have to demonstrate there's a valid link between fingerprinting applicants for peddler licenses and valid public safety concerns.

Part of that demonstration would include having a process in place showing what the city is doing with the fingerprints and how that contributes to public safety, she said.

According to code compliance officer Lisa Hopper, no such fingerprinting process is in place, Nelson said.

Freedman said this ordinance is being written for the future when fingerprinting will be even more sophisticated and the current training is fairly easy.

Nelson said fingerprinting could be judged to be an undue burden on commercial speech.

She will forward the comments regarding fingerprinting to city attorney Craig Ritchie because there are practical and free speech concerns, Nelson said.

The proposed ordinance states a peddler license can be denied if the applicant has been convicted of a felony within the past 10 years that is "directly related to the position sought" because that's how the state law reads, Nelson said.

State law regarding sex offenders only addresses those seeking employment in places such as adult care homes, she said.

Freedman asked if a sex offender only convicted of a misdemeanor could be denied a peddler's license under the proposed ordinance.

Nelson said, "I would argue that (the license) should be denied because this is door-to-door sales, but (the misdemeanor) still must be within the past 10 years," Nelson said.

"But I would not have a problem arguing that denial," she said.

The ordinance includes an exemption for minors unless they are working on behalf of someone else, Nelson said.

The city plans to install a sign at each major entrance to the city stating, "Peddling, soliciting, canvassing ordinances enforced. Sequim Municipal Code 5.24."

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