The city of Goodlettsville may be going the way of Brentwood when it comes to the sale of street newspapers like The Contributor.
Next week's City Commission meeting will include a public hearing, followed by a final vote, on an ordinance similar to one in the Nashville suburb that prohibited street sales, effectively stopping the efforts of The Contributor, which is sold on the street by largely homeless vendors. A U.S. Court of Appeals recently sided with Brentwood in a case between the city and the paper over the ordinance.
The ordinance under consideration in Goodlettsville (viewable in PDF form below) would prohibit using or occupying "any portion of the public right-of-way, including any public street, median, alley, or sidewalk" for the purpose of "selling or attempting to sell any goods, merchandise or other materials or any services."
It would also prohibit "soliciting or accepting a donation of money or any other item from the occupant of any vehicle" and stipulates that no person "by means of a sign or other kind of device of any kind...attempt to alert the driver or occupant of a motor vehicle that is on a street to any commercial activity."
If you're not yet conjuring a picture of the folks such an ordinance would directly affect, read on (emphasis ours).
The ordinance specifically states that it "shall not be construed as prohibiting the sale or distribution of newspapers, magazines, periodicals, handbills, flyers or similar materials, except that:
(1) Such activity shall be prohibited on any portion of any street within the City.
(2) Such materials shall not be handed to the occupant of any motor vehicle that is on a street, nor shall any action be taken which is intended or reasonably calculated to cause the vehicle occupant to hand anything to the person selling or distributing the materials.
The public hearing and final vote on the ordinance is Thursday, Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. The ordinance passed on first reading by a vote of 4 to 1, with the lone dissenting vote coming from Commissioner Zach Young, who was elected to the Commission last year at the age of 20. He tells Pith that while proponents of the ordinance have cited safety concerns "this never became an issue until the homeless people came into Goodlettsville and started selling that paper."
"Regardless of safety, I can't go to sleep at night knowing that I made a vote that would directly affect someone's ability to put food in their mouth," he says. "There's also a little bit of a First Amendment issue there for some people. But especially for me, I can't sleep at night with a good conscience knowing that just that one vote would directly affect someone's ability to feed their kids or feed themselves or be able to get off the streets."