Posted by Allentown Area News.
The quality-of-life measures also require the removal of unused satellite dishes from houses and prohibit cars from parking on grass.
Allentown City Council voted tonight to strengthen several laws related to quality-of-life issues in the city, including one that bans skateboarders from certain areas of the city.
Approved by a 7-0 vote, the measures also require the removal of unused satellite dishes from houses, prohibit cars from parking on grass and require bicyclists to ride on the street instead of sidewalks.
Although the proposal was in discussions for more than a month, the board agreed tonight to expand it to an even larger area of the city than they were originally expecting.
The original proposal was limited to the Center City Business District between Walnut and Linden streets and Fourth and 12th Streets. It will now also apply to the 7th Street Business District and the 19th Street Business District.
The 7th Street Business District runs along Seventh from Hamilton to Tilghman streets, according to the city. The 19th Street Business District includes 19th from Liberty to Tilghman streets and Allen Street from 18th to 20th streets.
Skateboarding will also be prohibited in all areas of the city at nighttime.
Except for the ban on cars parking on grass or landscaped areas, these rules were already technically on the books and have now simply been streamlined into one city ordinance, council members say.
Penalties include fines of $25 or $100 for first and second offenses, and fines ranging from $150 to $500 for subsequent offenses, according to city documents.
One provision that was removed from the original proposal was a ban on handbills and flyers being placed on vehicles, which was intended to combat litter as many residents discard those flyers on the ground, said Ann Saurman, the city’s Bureau of Recycling and Solid Waste manager.
But that specific ban was removed because assistant city solicitor Frances Fruhwirth identified a past court case challenging a similar law in Pittsburgh which was struck down over free speech issues.
“The court in that instance found that provision of the ordinance unconstitutional and unenforceable,” Fruhwirth said. She said of the proposed Allentown flyer ban, “As written, it would not hold up in court.”
Councilman Ray O’Connell said council likely would revisit at least a partial ban on such flyers, but may limit it to specific types of flyers to avoid that constitutional concern.
Fines for the violations would be imposed through the city’s SWEEP ticket program, which is administered by Allentown and benefit the city’s solid waste fund.
SWEEP tickets are different from regular citations, which are administered by the courts and leave fines up to the discretion of district judges. Offenders can appeal SWEEP tickets and request a court hearing if they want one.
City officials have said skateboarders are a particular problem at the Arts Park at Fifth and Linden streets, as well as on the front steps of Allentown school buildings.
During a council committee meeting Monday to discuss the proposals, resident Richard Ramos said the city has a strong need of a skateboard park along the lines of the Bethlehem Skateplaza that opened in July 2010 across from Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.
Resident Jim Brilhart also suggested council pass a resolution establishing easily-accessible public bulletin boards at major intersections in the city for use by community groups and churches.
Contact Allentown reporter Colin McEvoy at 484-894-2549 or email@example.com.