BRENTWOOD -- The city is in the process of updating an existing ordinance that places requirements on all solicitors with some exemptions for certain community organizations and individuals.
Those with exemptions under the city's peddler ordinance include nonprofit organizations, children under the age of 16, licensed real estate professionals, delivery drivers on regular routes, salesmen at retail stores and those gathering signatures. Removing the exemptions for some of these individuals and groups would make the city vulnerable to legal challenges and attorney fees, according to Brentwood City Attorney Damien Brower.
Brower said that signature gatherers are protected by the First Amendment's freedom of speech considerations.
"We can't require them to get a permit going door-to-door," he said.
Originally adopted in 1948 and last revised in 1968, the peddler ordinance will now require most people peddling goods or services door-to-door to go through a police background check to obtain a permit. Based on some of the protections, Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor recently said that the ordinance did not have enough strength.
"We don't really have too much artillery to stop people from banging on the door," he said.
The Brentwood City Council discussed that residents can keep door-to-door visits at bay by hanging a "no peddlers or solicitors" sign on their property. Under the ordinance, that sign prohibits solicitors from entering the residence or bothering the occupants by knocking on the door, ringing the door bell or in any other way.
"If you have a no-solicitor sign, permit or not, they are not to knock on the door, ring the doorbell or inhibit your day at all," Brentwood Vice Mayor Joel Bryant said.
Many of the fears surrounding solicitors stems from recent burglaries where suspects case homes by knocking on doors as faux solicitors.
"I think the public is very concerned about that," Councilman Steve Barr said. "I think knowing who is coming to your door is the right process."
The Brentwood Police Department will cite unwanted peddlers in residential areas of the city. Peddlers are not allowed to enter a residential property after sunset or peddle in a fixed location longer than 30 minutes.
Peddling is prohibited within 15 feet of an ATM or bank, in proximity to a dining area, within 300 feet of a school campus before 4 p.m. on school days, at a park or playground and in public parking areas.
"We think this is the best that we can do," Councilman Erick Stonebarger said of the revised ordinance.
Contact Paula King at 925-779-7174 or firstname.lastname@example.org.