Photo by VinylMill
Door-to-door salespeople may soon be required to carry a permit when working in Fayetteville neighborhoods.
City law already prohibits door-to-door sales if a property owner displays a “no soliciting” sign, but a proposed ordinance could further regulate the practice of soliciting at private residences.
The proposal, brought forth by Ward 3 Alderman Justin Tennant, aims to curb a growing number of complaints from Fayetteville residents who are tired of being approached by door-to-door scam artists, such as the group of young people who were recently in town claiming to be selling items to raise money for University of Arkansas trips and internships.
The UA Police Department earlier this month released a statement warning residents not to fall for the scam.
“I feel like many of our citizens are being taken advantage of,” said Tennant. “What I wanted to do here was put up a door, so to speak, to discourage these people from actually coming into the city and doing these things to our citizens.”
If the new law is adopted, door-to-door sales companies wishing to operate within the Fayetteville city limits would be required to pay a $40 annual permit fee plus $5 for each solicitor.
Salespeople would be subject to a criminal background check from the Arkansas State Police and would be required to carry a visible photo ID and a copy of their company’s permit. Solicitors could only work door to door from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during standard time and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. during daylight saving time. Violations would carry a fine of up to $500.
The ordinance would also require city planning staff to furnish “no soliciting” decals to any Fayetteville resident who requests one for their home.
City Attorney Kit Williams said federal law won’t allow cities to completely ban door-to-door solicitation in order to preserve First Amendment rights. Because of this, permits or fees would be waived for certain nonprofits like Girl Scouts who are selling cookies or religious and political groups exercising free speech.
Aldermen will discuss the proposed ordinance during the Fayetteville City Council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 18 inside the City Administration Building at 113 W. Mountain Street.
Update – June 18
Aldermen amended the ordinance to add a five-year good behavior limit on the background check review period and to allow solicitors to work until 9 p.m. at the request of Brian Smith, circulation sales manager with Northwest Arkansas Newspapers. Smith said nearly half of the newspaper’s door-to-door subscription sales occur between 5 and 9 p.m. and that subscription sales would drop by about 25 percent if sales staff couldn’t work past 7 p.m. Council members then requested more time to work out details concerning the overall background check policy and the impact the ordinance would have on city staff. Aldermen will resume discussion of the proposal on July 2.
Update – July 2
Aldermen amended the ordinance to exempt children (up to high school seniors) from needing a permit or a background check. The ordinance passed 7-0. Ward 1 Alderwoman Adella Gray was absent for the meeting.