Resolution a positive first step

By Observer editorial July 29, 2013 10:18 am
The increase in water and sewer rates drew the biggest headline following the July 19 La Grande City Council meeting. 

However, that wasn’t the only piece of business the council got accomplished during the meeting.

Councilors also passed a resolution setting a fine range for Ordinance 3077, which, among other things, prohibits skating, skateboarding and bicycling on sidewalks in the central business district during business hours. The minimum fine was set at $50 with a maximum of $500. 

La Grande Police Chief Brian Harvey said the fine for each case will be determined by a judge.

We applaud the council’s decision to set fines to go with the ordinance, putting a stiffer penalty in place and giving the ordinance some bite to go with the bark.  

However, we wonder who’s going to enforce Ordinance 3077, something that has been an issue in the past. Harvey said during the council meeting that the parking enforcement officer has been instructed to watch for violators when possible. That seems like a reasonable first step. However, one parking enforcement officer cannot be everywhere. And a patrolling officer that sees someone on the sidewalk illegally would need to find a parking spot downtown and then find the suspect, something that likely won’t be very easy. 

There is simply not enough manpower to have someone on the ground there regularly, Harvey said in a June 24 story in The Observer.

“We have to prioritize every single day and every single call,” Harvey said. 

Skaters, skateboarders and bicyclists need to police each other and encourage proper behavior. If the law is enforced, and the judge gives a ticket, it would take a big bite out of somebody’s, or somebody’s parents’, pocketbooks. That alone should be enough to discourage illegal riding.

There is a fine skateboarding park at Pioneer Park people can ride at and practice tricks. And bicyclists need to follow the rules of the road the same as vehicle drivers.

Sure, there will still be scofflaws. That is part of the culture. The problem will not be eliminated but if it is reduced, there will be fewer injuries to pedestrians and riders, and the downtown will again be a safe place to shop and do business.