Blocking downtown sidewalks, even with an open car door, can lead to a $100 fine starting this week.
"You can't block the sidewalk to the point folks (passing by) are going to have step out into the street. We will cite for those kinds of things," said Capt. Tom Porter of the Juneau Police Department.
Police have begun enforcing a new sidewalk ordinance aimed at relieving pedestrian congestion downtown. The ordinance prohibits any sidewalk obstructions, including vehicles, vehicle doors, equipment, fences, structures, cones, signs, waste containers, building materials, construction debris, vending machines, newspaper racks, or any other objects that are "placed, planted, left or erected in, upon, or over a pedestrian way," according to Porter.
The fine for such obstructions will be hefty, and a lot more than people are used to, Porter said.
"It's going to move from $20 to $100 for the first time, and it goes up from there. It's a safety thing, and that's the bottom line for all of this," he said.
The ordinance applies to sidewalks and crosswalks on North and South Franklin, Main, Seward and some other streets north of Mount Roberts Road off Thane Road and south of Fourth Street downtown.
Porter said he anticipates people will be most unhappy with the portion of the ordinance that prohibits parking on the sidewalk, or near enough to the sidewalk that part of a vehicle blocks the walkway, he said.
"For those who are parking, making deliveries, this would include any portion of the vehicle blocking the sidewalk where it is restricted," he said.
The Juneau Assembly is at work on another ordinance that redefines loading zones and limits taxi stops downtown. Violations to that ordinance also carry a $100 fine. The loading zone ordinance will be up for public comment at a June 23 Assembly meeting.
Porter encouraged downtown business owners to read a copy of the sidewalk ordinance.
"It would be in their best interest to be familiar with the definition of 'obstruction' soon," he said.
Julia O'Malley can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
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