When you're outdoors and nature calls, stay out of sighton September 9, 2013 @ 3:14 pm (Updated: 9:20 am - 9/10/13 )
County Councilmember Kathy Lambert was surprised to learn that King County doesn't have such a law for the unincorporated area, what she calls "our big backyard." She was disgusted by the behavior of some people during a couple of large gatherings in the county this summer.
"Some of them did not listen to their mothers on what's polite behavior in public," said Lambert. "They were befouling the area."
So Lambert drew up an ordinance that would make it illegal to urinate, or worse, in a public place, including a street, sidewalk, bridge, alley, plaza, park or bike trail among other spots. The law would have two key components.
"You have to intentionally do it and then you have to be generally visible to public view, so in other words, you have to do it in front of everybody," said council staff analyst Cliff Curry.
A council committee takes up the matter Tuesday afternoon. The sheriff supports a law against public urination that gives deputies some discretion in handing out citations. Chief deputy Anne Kirkpatrick told the council's Law, Justice, Health and Human Services committee recently that if somebody does it well out of view, perhaps during a hike, they wouldn't get in trouble.
"I want to assure you that if there was a deputy who issued a citation in that situation, they would be visiting with me and I'm sure the sheriff has the use of good discretion," said Kirkpatrick. "I would not expect a deputy to do that."
Lambert has some work to do to convince her colleagues of the need for a law. Rod Dembowski, for one, would like some specific numbers. "The number, extent, frequency of these incidents, you know, I'm concerned about writing laws to address issues that aren't issues."
But Lambert insists it is an issue. "Where it happens it's very flagrant, it's happening, you're seeing it, it's causing havoc."
The latest version of the proposed ordinance removes the imposition of a misdemeanor criminal violation for a second offense. But fines could be up to $250, double what the City of Seattle imposes for the same crime.
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