Eau Claire city staff will recommend postponing a discussion about changing an ordinance that would impact how police respond to incidents from excessive drinking.
Changes to the public good order ordinance, which was first adopted in 1953, are scheduled for public discussion today, though city documents show staff is asking to table talks until May.
That would “provide additional time to discuss the problem of excessive alcohol consumption and its negative health and safety impacts on individuals and neighborhoods, and review the ordinance and propose any changes from further input from interested members of the public,” city documents state.
The ordinance proposes that officers are allowed to issue citations for people yelling, disturbing or annoying others in a public place, causing physical neighborhood disruption or being publicly intoxicated.
The changes also update an established ordinance against loitering in public or private places.
Such fines could cost $295, including court costs.
Additionally, large vehicles-for-hire such as the Right Way Shuttle would be prohibited from dropping off more than 10 people between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. in a single city block in the Historic Randall Park and Third Ward neighborhoods if the bus riders don’t live there.
While initially supporting the ordinance, the Randall Park Neighborhood Association recently drafted a letter to the City Council asking to delay voting on the ordinance to allow more time to get feedback, specifically from college students.
Assistant city attorney and drafter of the ordinance, Jenessa Stromberger, noted that UW-Eau Claire Student Senate in particular has requested an opportunity to provide more feedback.
Members of the Student Senate issued a news release in late February expressing frustration college students weren’t consulted during the ordinance creation process.
But Stromberger said that’s false.
“The process through which the proposed order went for public input at the formative drafting stage, prior to the still upcoming legislative public input process, involved the students as much or more than any other interest group,” she wrote.
Stromberger and members from the Eau Claire Police Department made a presentation to Student Senate on Feb. 12 regarding the ordinance.
After the news release was sent by Student Senate, city staff also attended a chancellor’s roundtable discussion on March 1 to answer questions from UW-Eau Claire students.
Five days after that meeting, Student Senate Vice President Nick Webber requested the city form a task force to write an ordinance that reflects voices from the colleges, neighborhoods, taverns, health department, taxicab companies and others.
“We would like to see this committee established and working as soon as possible in order to meet the urgent safety concerns and community needs of our city,” he wrote. “It is our hope that through this committee, an amicable solution will be produced in a form of a new ordinance.”
The City Council meets at 7 p.m. today and 4 p.m. Tuesday in the council chamber of City Hall, 203 S. Farwell St.
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