City Hall

City Attorney Wants to Make It Much Harder For Strangers to Knock On Your Front Door

Been trying since yesterday without any luck to reach City Attorney Tom Perkins to talk about his scheduled appearance Monday in front of the council's Quality of Life Committee. The topic, for which 45 minutes have been carved out: "Home Solicitation Ordinance." Which, from the looks of the briefing documents just posted to the city's website, would involve reinforcing the existing anti-littering ordinance and forcing all those who go door-to-door leaving fliers, menus and other printed what-nots rubber-banded to your door knob to register with the city before they can paper your neighborhood. But that's not all. Says the briefing:

[The] purpose is to prevent criminal activity (including burglary and fraud) and to minimize the unwelcome disturbance of citizens or disruption of privacy. "Home Solicitation" means the business of soliciting, selling, or taking orders for goods or services or distributing commercial printed matter on residential premises.
Per the amendment to Chapter 42 of the Dallas City Code, those doing the soliciting would have to register with the city first, for which there's a yet-to-be-determined fee that needs to be paid upfront. Anyone caught soliciting without the official OK will be fined up to $500, assuming they can't convince the Dallas PD there's a good reason for them being out and about between 9 a.m. and sunset Monday through Saturdays only (the deadline set in the ordinance to be discussed Monday). And there is a way around this:
Defenses are provided, including for educational, charitable, religious, or political solicitations; solicitations conducted at the invitation of the property owner or occupant; and newspaper sales requested by the property owner or occupant.
That's called The Belo Exemption.