City ordinances get an update

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2002

Some code changes

• A section in the health and sanitation code that regulates slaughterhouses will be deleted. Slaughterhouses are a non-issue in Juneau, according to the city.

• The city's curfew for minors, which has not been enforced, will be deleted.

• A section on prostitution that has not been enforced for many years will be deleted. Prostitution still will be illegal under state law.

• Regulations will be amended to allow funeral vehicles and contractors to drive through a cemetery.

• A restriction on firearms, air rifles and slingshots in city parks will be expanded to include model rockets. The Parks and Recreation director, rather than the Assembly, will be designated to allow exceptions for particular areas.

• A reference to seeing-eye dogs in Title 5, the Juneau Airport, will be changed to certificated service animals.

Juneau's obsolete curfew and prostitution laws will be deleted under a comprehensive, but mostly routine, code revision scheduled for an upcoming public hearing.

From animal control to the airport, the entire city code is scheduled to go before the Juneau Assembly for an update later this month. For the most part, City Attorney John Corso describes the changes as housekeeping.

"The point is to modernize it, to get rid of gender-specific pronouns, to track down inconsistencies in local, state and federal law and internal inconsistencies," he said. "To get rid of things that don't make sense any more."

The city contracted with the Municipal Code Corp. of Tallahassee, Fla., to review the code. The company recently has revised municipal codes in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Kenai. The cost of the Juneau project was $40,000, Corso said.

The code and the changes cover every aspect of city government. As an example, the traffic code has been revised to conform to state traffic law. A section on slaughterhouses has been deleted. So has a title that refers to careless smoking.

During a work session in April, Corso directed Assembly members to two changes that might warrant attention. One will delete the city's curfew for minors. The curfew hasn't been enforced because the city doesn't have a statistical justification for it, Corso said.

"We've already been through a discussion of that. It seems like a substantive change, but it's not enforced at this time," he said.

The curfew is from 10:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. on school nights and from midnight to 6 a.m. on other nights. It applies to children under 16, according to the code.

The revision also will delete a section on prostitution that hasn't been enforced for many years. Prostitution still will be illegal in Juneau under state law, Corso said.

"Generally, it's not a good idea to have ordinances that aren't enforced," he said. "The district attorney has the sort of criminal enforcement and investigation resources we don't. Prostitution can require a sting operation."

Work on the code revision project started in 1997, and after several drafts the city now has a new two-volume code. While many communities update their code every five or 10 years, this the first time Juneau's code has gone through a comprehensive review in its 30-year history as a unified city and borough, Corso said.

The changes are scheduled to go before the Assembly on Jan. 28. Mayor Sally Smith said she doesn't expect the revision to be controversial.

"It's just something that has to be routinely done now and again," she said. "The neat part of it is it's on a CD-ROM and on the Web site and anyone can go in with a subject and find what the rules are within the city and borough."

A new search function will be available online, and code updates will be sent out electronically instead of by regular mail, Corso said.

More substantive changes also have been recommended by the city's contractor, but Corso said they will be need to be considered individually by the Assembly.

"We'll be playing catch-up with this for a year or two on more substantive changes," he said. "Provisions in the appeals code, for example, could use improvement. There are things that would make appeals go more quickly, but they would shorten the time people have to reply to things. ... That kind of thing the Assembly needs to consider on its own merits."

Juneau's city code and information about the update are available at Paper copies of the code are available at the clerk's office, the city Law Department and public libraries.

Joanna Markell can be reached at

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