Scottsdale littering fine urged by mayor
by Edward Gately - Nov. 27, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
If Mayor Jim Lane gets his way, patrons of downtown Scottsdale's entertainment district would be fined $150 if they are caught improperly discarding a beer bottle or cigarette butt.
When the City Council meets on Dec. 6, Lane plans to ask the members to consider an ordinance that would establish a $75 fine for littering anywhere in the city. The fine would be doubled in the entertainment district, which includes a higher concentration of bars than any other area of downtown and attracts thousands of patrons every weekend.
"This has been one of the prime issues that have been of concern and discussed by both sides of the equation -- the bar owners and their organization as well as the residents there," Lane said. "The (bar owners) addressed it by enhancing the cleanup not only of their area but by hiring someone to clean throughout the area, and the city also has a cleanup crew.
"We'd like to eliminate it all together," he said, "and enforce the law in a clearer manner and maybe more stringently."
State law currently imposes a $50 fine for littering. The city's trash ordinance is geared mostly toward blight and doesn't apply to trash such as discarded beer bottles and cigarette butts, said J.P. Twist, Lane's chief of staff.
"This would create an ordinance for the type of litter in the downtown," he said.
The measure would include placing signage throughout the district to make patrons aware of the fine, Lane said.
"At the same time, we're going to provide greater opportunity to make sure you can dispose of trash legally by situating receptacles at strategic points, and we're in the midst of evaluating where they should go," he said.
Scottsdale police officers and code-enforcement workers would be on the lookout for people who litter and would be ready to issue tickets, Lane said.
"We have code enforcement and police in the area at times when it's more likely to occur, so it's going to be a matter of catching them," he said. "Once you catch a few people, the message gets communicated and that's the primary thing."
The Association to Preserve Downtown Scottsdale's Quality of Life, which includes downtown residents and merchants, has been pressuring the city to do more about littering in and around the entertainment district.
"We think it's a very positive forward move and we're happy to see the city respond to the message that we've been sending," said Bill Crawford, the association's president. "Littering has been a very big issue. I think our organization, our efforts and our advertising these issues have made a huge difference."
The city has adequate police and code enforcement in the district to enforce the ordinance, and those who are ticketed wouldn't be able to just discard them and not pay the fine, Lane said.
Complaints about litter, noise and other problems in the entertainment district have subsided, Lane said.
"As far as police presence is concerned," he said, "I know that there's been some amount of talk about that, but the police presence has been strong. I think it's adequate and I think they have been doing a good job."