The Daphne City Council is ready to levy fines for the unlawful distribution of handbills, most notably the Press-Register’s advertising circular Gulf Coast Life, with a new ordinance, but councilors aren’t sure who to fine when the new rules are broken.
The city’s handbill ordinance doesn’t ban the distribution of handbills, but it does restrict the length of time those handbills can sit in a yard and would levy fines if the handbills are left on vacant lots or in city waterways or streets. Violators face to up to $500 in fines, community service or up to six months of jail time.
However, the ordinance does not say who would be subject to those penalties. Councilman Ron Scott asked the council to postpone a vote on the ordinance to give the city’s legal team time to specify who would be subject to those penalties.
“From a code enforcement standpoint, we need to know who the violator is,” Scott said. “Is it the person who throws the handbill? Is it their supervisor, or is it the company who does it? At this point, our prosecutor and judge have not had a chance to look at this. We need to give our legal team time to decide who would be responsible.”
Mobile BayKeeper executive director Casi Callaway worked with the city of Mobile to draft a similar handbill ordinance. She said BayKeeper has seen the ordinance make an impact, but has also seen it go unenforced at times. According to Callaway, a list of people who have asked to be removed from the Gulf Coast Life distribution list but still receive it has grown recently.
“We have a consistent problem with this, and what we see is those handbills ending up in our waterways,” Callaway said.
Councilors could vote on the ordinance at a regular meeting in July.