Restrictions on door-to-door salesmen exempt religious, political activists - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Restrictions on door-to-door salesmen exempt religious, political activists

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Posted: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 9:00 am

Religious missionaries and political activists would fall under some, but not all, of the provisions of a proposed Phoenix law that would restrict door-to-door solicitors, according to James Hays, an assistant Phoenix city attorney.

For instance, if a homeowner puts up a sign that says "no solicitors," salespeople would be prohibited from knocking on the door, but proselytizers and political campaigners would not, Hays said. On the other hand, if a home bears a sign that says "no handbills," it would bar everyone, commercial or not, from leaving literature on the door, he said.

To keep everyone out, residents would have to post a "no trespassing" sign, he said.

"If there is a no trespassing sign, you can't go in there at all," Hays said.

In the next few weeks, the Phoenix City Council is expected to decide whether to go forward with the proposed law, which could impose fines of up to $2,500 on solicitors for such things as failing to leave when asked and disturbing residents' privacy.

Hays said the proposal's current version would restrict solicitors' hours of operation to between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. from October through March, and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. from April through September. It also would require solicitors to carry approved identification, bar them from peering through windows, and would create a police code specific to door-to-door solicitors so that law enforcement can track infractions when residents call 911.

"It basically gives homeowners a little more clear ability to keep people they don't want on their property off their property," Hays said.

Supporters of the proposed restrictions have said that requiring solicitors to obtain licenses could help weed out those attempting to commit fraud and potential burglars.

Ahwatukee Foothills residents have had problems with such solicitors. Last year, Salt River Project officials reported that two men had been posing as either SRP or Southwest Gas employees and were attempting to get into homes, saying they were there for an energy audit or to check a water heater.

Police also have warned residents about young people, often working for out-of-state operations, going door-to-door peddling everything from magazines to candy, accepting residents' credit card numbers and checks and then failing to deliver the product.

And there were reports last year of people peddling cleaning products door-to-door in Ahwatukee who became rude and refused to leave when residents declined to buy.

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