The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 17, 2013

Nuisance ordinance considered for business’ sidewalks

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — In the words of Enid’s city attorney, “We’re going to talk about bird droppings on sidewalks.”

Presenting the rough concept of an amended ordinance for Enid City Commission Tuesday, Andrea Chism discussed who is responsible for messy sidewalks and parking spaces.

For the most part, the ordinance would be geared toward downtown areas, which have heavily used sidewalks and business frontage. Chism said the proposal would make those businesses responsible for keeping their areas clean, even though the city typically owns those areas.

“We can use the nuisance ordinance to add bird or other animal droppings,” she said. “So then the city wouldn’t have to come down there and cut down trees or power-wash sidewalks.”

The ordinance, which has not been introduced, would state that “no person shall allow a nuisance” in areas in front of or adjacent to their location.

“The problem downtown is the sidewalks and parking spaces are there primarily for the use of the businesses,” Chism said. “However, the business doesn’t want to clean up the droppings or whatever else happens on the sidewalks or in the parking place.”

The problem is so bad, she said, that a woman recently slipped and fell on a sidewalk because bird droppings had accumulated so much.

In those types of cases, code department officials would identify the problem areas, but they would not be empowered to levy fines.

“(Businesses) would receive a letter from the code department. They would be told to clean their property,” said Chism. “The code department would follow up and they would have to clean up their property in a reasonable time.”

Ward 2 Commissioner Mike Stuber criticized the proposal for not being business-friendly, suggesting downtown tenants instead could pay a small annual fee or that Main Street Enid could organize cleanups.

“I have a hard time seeing the business owner responsible for cleaning something we own, maintain and repair,” Stuber said.

Chism said those are both options, and the city does not have the manpower to keep sidewalks clean.

“I think you could also look at it as business-friendly in that if there is no bird poop on the sidewalk, somebody may actually visit that store,” she said.