Residents in unincorporated King County now have a new tool to use in discouraging unwanted door-to-door solicitation, following unanimous approval of a new regulation today by the Metropolitan King County Council.The regulation prohibits commercial solicitors from contacting residents who have posted their property with “No Trespassing” or “No Soliciting” signage. Similar regulations already are in place in many King County cities, but the prohibition now applies to the more than 300,000 residents who live in the county’s unincorporated areas.
Councilmember Kathy Lambert proposed the regulation after hearing complaints from residents in Redmond Ridge, a master planned development in the unincorporated area. They requested regulation of aggressive solicitors such as magazine salesmen who harass neighbors and perpetrate scams. Police reports also have implicated burglars using a phony solicitation ruse to case homes and determine those that are unoccupied.
“I am grateful to our sheriff’s office and our prosecuting attorney’s office for working diligently to research and draft a regulation that strikes a balance between freedom of speech and our residents’ right to peace and security in their own homes,” said Lambert.
The restriction on solicitation does not apply to political, religious or charitable activities by non-profit organizations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, in order to avoid any conflict with First Amendment rights to free speech. Neither does it apply to local farmers who want to offer their produce for sale, because they are specifically exempted by state law. Government agencies such as the Census Bureau and Post Office also are exempt.
Solicitors who ignore signage and try to contact a resident anyway face a civil infraction with a fine of $100.
“I am concerned that residents in the unincorporated area may be more vulnerable to criminal activity connected with solicitation, particularly among immigrant cultures and seniors in retirement communities,” Lambert said. “This tool can help them partner with our Sheriff’s Office to improve the safety of their neighborhoods.”
Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system at http://mkcclegisearch.kingcounty.gov and type in “2011-0327”