Heber City Council discussed an idling ordinance last week. The council ultimately decided to wait on an ordinance in favor of an education campaign to raise awareness.
At the Heber City Council retreat in January an idling ordinance was discussed by council members. Heber City Police Chief Dave Booth brought options for idling ordinances to the city council at their February 4th meeting. He said he modeled policies after ones applied in neighboring municipality Park City.
Booth asked the council to consider options including if the city should create code policing idling on just public property or public and private property.
Booth clarified that even if the council passed the private property option, police officer would not be citing citizens for warming their cars at their homes in the winter, only on private property that’s accessible by the public.
“So, a home is a little different in the sense that the public doesn't regularly access your home, but the public does regularly access The Smiths parking lot, the Lee’s parking lot, the Walmart parking lot,” Booth explained. “So, that would fall into that private property because it is owned by the business. The proposal that we have here doesn't so much say Hey we're going to be coming on to your yard and your driveway. Really, it's more of what are we concerned about with Walmart, Smiths, Lees, Zions, Mountain America etc. etc.”
Additionally, the ordinance would require three warnings before an actual citation was issued. Booth noted that to give a seatbelt citation in Utah officers have to have recorded evidence of a warning being issued, Booth said that requirement drastically lowers citations given, while still allowing for education.
“That's a pretty big step to get to a citation, bigger than what I thought it was going to be,” Booth said. “So, to put three warnings in place, that really gives us time to do a lot of education. I really see three warnings being pretty far down the road. I look at seat belt and that’s just one warning, and that's pretty far down the road before they get a ticket.”
Booth said the police department would also be happy to be involved with education efforts.
“We've done this a lot,” Booth continued. “We can buy some swag and we can start handing it out and just open up a dialogue. Because we can always walk up—it’s called a level one contact—we can always walk up and say how you doing, we’d sure like you to know about this. We're not detaining them; we're not demanding identification. Nothing like that it's just here you go; we’re doing some education. We're happy to get involved in that and I think that really would fall really on two groups. Probably our PR group as well as the Police Department, but hopefully we are part of your PR group.”
In discussion, Heber City Council members agreed to forgo an anti-idling ordinance in the immediate future and agreed that their first priority should be an education campaign encouraging greater environmental sustainability generally in the city.