The Solicitation Ordinance
In 2009 the
Commissioners allowed commercial solicitors by ordinance to
solicit in our residential neighborhoods, adding
( as was
shortly proven ) further danger to our neighborhoods
and a drain on police and other services .
Here’s the whole ordinance
WHAT THE RESIDENTS WANT AND NEED - 2016
We want neighborhoods without solicitors wandering through them
& would ask that you fight in Harrisburg for the right to
remove them from our residentially
We need you to implement
further protections since we
DO have solicitors:
the permit should be required TO
BE WORN AROUND THE NECK OR DIRECTLY IN VIEW ( not under
a coat or sweater ) and it should say that it must be worn
that way right on the permit . When residents read it – they
will read that it must be worn visibly and know that when they
don't see one, the person is not legally soliciting
The permit should say in Large letters “SOLICITATION
PERMIT “ on
BOTH SIDES so it can’t be turned around
The permit should have in LARGE letters the
SOLICITORS NAME ON BOTH SIDES OF IT .
A QUICK BUTTON
ON THE TOWNSHIP HOME PAGE TO THE LIST OF REGISTERED SOLICITORS
would make it easy to check so you can see if he/she is
registered and if not can call 911 right away for a car to be
5) If a solicitor has been caught soliciting without a
permit, they should still be paying the fee --- if the police
want to issue a warning and spare them the fine in addition to
the fee, fine ( one time ) . But they
SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN A WARNING AND
2-16 I have asked Larry Matteo, Director of Code
Enforcement , my
Commissioner and the Police to address these details, implement
these simple changes and would appreciate your support by
having you do the same.
TOP 10 REASONS
NOT TO HAVE SOLICITORS
concern: safety --- who’s in my neighborhood and why?
Second : I
chose to live in a
residentially zoned neighborhood not where business is
Who has given businesses the right to
spoil the quiet
enjoyment of my home ?
signs do not make my house more beautiful or my community
Fourth : signs are often
ignored by solicitors anyway
Fifth : the
literature solicitors leave marks our houses when we are
away and makes us less safe
Sixth the literature
is a violation of state
and local litter laws
Seventh: There is also
great confusion over what “no solicitation” means .
Brownies? Boy Scouts ?
Fundraiser kids ? All non-profits ? Church Booksellers?
Politicos ? Can they come even if asking you for money ?
A” no trespassing sign”
means all must obey –
even your neighbors who are not soliciting & might
like to bring you
important community information or invite you to something. But very
few know the nuances of who
is and isn’t included or
the difference between that and “no solicitation” . Does the
“no solicitation “ vary from
Town to Town or State to State ? Non–profits are excluded from
to get a permit, but if they encounter signs saying “no
solicitation “ are they allowed to ask for money ?
You’ll find out very few know the law, and that includes
some police, most solicitors, a lot of
organizations and the majority of residents.
Eighth – If you wanted to
help out burglars and
thieves, what better way than to give them an easy
excuse to go door to door and
case each house individually, up close
and with no fear
of being suspected?
Ninth – the
Township creating a problem that you now have to pay to
solve - you pay
you pay the Township Personnel and you pay when a
crime results from their presence
THE ACTUAL ORDINANCE
AND RELATED LAWS
WHERE TO CALL TO CHECK ON A SOLICITOR
Call 911 - it's not just for emergencies anymore
. They will see if he/she is properly registered .
Township and Police websites have links
also can call
Jim Salaik in the Code Enforcement
office 267-536-1018 to verify
certain solicitor's authenticity - such as paving contractors or
you can call Susan West at the Police station 267-536-1100 to
see if they have a permit.
THE TOWNSHIP HAS LITTER LAWS
THAT SOLICITORS ARE VIOLATING
§ 108-1. Prohibited acts.
section 108.1 of our Township code
they not allowed
to leave anything on your property without your permission
It is illegal :
To throw, drop or place, or cause to be thrown, dropped or
placed, upon any of the public highways, sidewalks or public
places within the township, or upon any porch, step or yard of
any house or store along any of the public highways within the
township, any posters, circulars, bills, handbills or other
advertising matter of any kind or description whatever.
To throw, drop or place, or cause to be thrown, dropped or
placed, upon any of the highways, sidewalks or other public
places within the township, any paper, paper boxes or literature
of like kind or nature, or waste matter of any kind whatsoever.
To nail, tack, hang or otherwise append any sign, notice or
advertisement of any kind whatsoever on any tree, post or pole
of any description within the township, except on private
property and then only by permission of the owner.
HAS LITTER LAWS THAT SOLICITORS ARE VIOLATING :
Pa.C.S.A. § 6501.
Offense defined.--A person is guilty of an offense if
he: 1) causes any
waste paper, ......or rubbish, ....... upon the
land of another
POLICE NEED TO STAND
The police are well aware that criminals like to"case"
their targets - and what better way than to go door to door
looking for open doors and windows or items of value or people
not home or who might be elderly or disabled or alone.
2) Commissioners have issued several warnings and caveats about
door to door scams and about how to protest yourself, but wouldn't it be
better to simply not allow give a free excuse to people in the neighborhood
--even with an excuse to got right up to the house - in the first
A good number of
solicitors use our mailbox flags and mailbox
posts for their flyers. But in March 2014 the police
issued a warning to call 911 if you saw anyone other than the
homeowner at a mailbox - because mailbox thefts had been
prevalent. (OK - lets add a few dozen more transients -
that will help the situation)
4) There have already been amendments
to the local ordinance because of aggressive behavior by
solicitors and diand intrusions by
these solicitors have included pusheing in on elederly people,
for instance . When you have given a perfectly legitimate excuse
to people who may be roaming your neighborhood, even after
dark, and when you know some are not legitimate and some are
aggressive it doesn't seem like you are tsupporting
measures that would make us safer - but
...perhaps the opposite.
Who is deciding how our communities are
run? Why aren't they and those charged with protecting us standing up for us
in this matter ?
Earlier entries are below this
line --- when you keep adding it gets repetitious - apologies
for that .
Will try to edit soon.
The issues are that :
a) This ordinance should never have passed - instead
the police should have stood up strongly to protect the
residents as this will make them less dafety and the law allowed
safety as a reason to control these activities- since it was
passed there have been incidents that directly outlined the
threat to safety, especially for the elderly or frail
The flyers and pamphlets are "marking the houses" of those not
home and are a violation of current liter laws - but neither
township nor police appear to be enforcing these laws
c) The outrageous 9 pm time is far to late for the
safety of anyone - and nearly always dark
residents overwhelmingly do NOT want these intrusions on their
private property, and whatever part of our system is broken to
the extent that the citizens of a community do not have a say in
it, needs to be the job of everyone to fix
e) Even the
laws , such as litter laws, as they exist are not being enforced
and illegal activity is occurring in association with the
2012 -2015 Since the passing of legislation
allowing Commercial Solicitors into our neighborhoods, there has
been am increase of activity and no sense that our safety will
be priority one. In October 2012 the Board of
Commissioners was considering
amendments to the ordinance. In particular the $ 100 per
day fee was being reduced to $200 per
month, as the original fee was supposedly not allowable per the First
Class Township code(?) despite the exhorbitant cost to our
police to monitor them - answering calls, sending letters,
making court appearances, etc And the 9 pm time was affirmed
in that amendment -- a time that residents feel is an outrageous
intrusion into their privacy and to the quiet enjoyment of their
property . Residents have testified at the
podium and asked Commissioners to consider the facets of
the ordinance that are not working and also as our Chief
of Police has been head of the Chiefs of Police - he has been asked to
use his position there to poll and rally the other Chiefs to
work for changes to any laws which would prohibit them
from recognizing the activities as not suitable for residential
neighborhoods. For those who choose to live in commercial
districts, that might be another story. But we should have
a right to choose to have zones that are free of commercial
activity if we, as a community desire. And I think just about
every community does. Since when should the officials who
are elected by the residents to serve them be serving the
interests of businesses over the interests of the residents.? See discussion below . The
points listed below have been sent to the Township manager and
DISCUSSION OF THE ISSUE :
1) I hope we might agree encouraging transients to
be present doing business in residential neighborhoods
does not increase safety
2) A burglar's dream : By going door to door people can
learn who was home and who is not home. They can look in
windows and yards and sometimes garages see what is valuable and what is not.
They can learn who might be elderly or infirm or perhaps more
susceptible or less able to defend themselves. They
can put literature in a place that easily marks the fact that
residents are not home. They can just
drive by and see who has not picked up their literature days
later. They have various excuses even when found at the rear of a property
- like that they are measuring your yard for a fence or
landscape services. Residents who took the time and care to have their
newspapers and mail arranged while away, have their efforts
undone. Those on shift work or needing to sleep are
3) Those who chose not to
live where commerce is conducted have found the commerce brought
4) One concern that we have in
Abington is that the rezoning of our town includes many areas that
are going to be rezoned mixed-use without the knowledge and
consent of the residents that live in them currently who had chosen
residential areas by design. The less traffic, the fewer
the number of strangers, the safer they feel. The more peace and
5) If you believe an increase in the number of transients poses no danger
whatsoever, I would like to see your
statistics. I asked that of our Police Chief and I have
yet to see any such statistics.
Nearly no one is signed up to solicit - while the number of
solicitors appearing at our doors has ballooned since word got
out that they could solicit here. In 2011 or 2012 an ordinance
was passed requiring them to pay and to register . What in the
original ordinance was $100 per day became $200 per month .
7) Who has the right to throw whatever they want on my
property, requiring me to pick it up or marking my house as
empty while I am away ? The second ordinance enacted
in 20011 or 2012 was brought about because the Trend
newspaper was tossed willy-nilly on any/every lawn they chose,
“marking” those not home rather easily. The legislation
passed made things worse by dictating that unless residents
took their own time, effort and expense to find out the correct
address & write a letter to the perpetrator, it was permitted.
You’re kidding right ? Even AFTER jumping through
all those hoops many were still ignored. We are being
told that the same law applies to the little “baggies” and all
other advertising tossed on your property by anyone who chooses,
the vast majority of whom seem not to be registered at all.
Really? To whom would I write? I have no clue who’s going to do it
tomorrow. How many letters per individual are reasonable per
year ? Where are the people whose duty by oath it was to
protect the health, safety and welfare and the LAWS - such as
littering laws? (see above )
here are some points that I hope you will hear:
junk on my property is trash/litter – nothing more. I believe I
have a right to have the litter laws enforced, not undermined.
#2 Items left when residents are away are open invitations
for criminals to see who is and is not home - our police should
be rallying against this practice
#3 It is an affront
to both personal and property rights to require my time, efforts
& expense whenever businesses choose to target me
No one is being prevented from leaving literature for me - I
have a receptacle for that purpose called a mail box. It
works . You pay instead of me. My mailbox means you can contact
me about business without me entertaining transients at my door until 9 pm.
It means I can have my mail and paper picked up while I'm away
so my house looks normal. It gives me an opportunity to
stop the deliveries altogether of such unwanted advertising .
It's a sytem already in place and it works.
police do NOT know how many are in violation, contrary to Chief
Kelly’s testimony. If they knew they would surely have been
citations have been issued not because few were warranted….. Of
all the illegal people that I called about, only only a couplde
issued a citation
#7 The ones being caught illegally
soliciting may not
even be paying the fee after they are found – I do
not see them listed as “signed up” to this very day.
#8 If “the
law is the law and they are required to follow it “ – then it
would be our officials’ job to work to get the law changed, as
we are doing with the Billboards. We have recently watched
our Chief vociferously try to change the dispatch
regulations at great time and expense on his part. We expect the
same for solicitation .
#9 Residents are now being encouraged
to call 911 if they have so much as a question about a solicitor
. Using the 911 system this way is contrary to its intentand
we should not have to have an officer dispatched to our
home ( another inconvenience). There should be a simple
information line – and the website could be used to post the
names of the solicitors to see if they are there legally.
#10 Solicitors also could be encouraged to show their
permits at the outset of every encounter, which would provide
great awareness township wide that here is a registration
Our community groups, our
Commissioners and our Township officials are all in a
position to improve this situation before others need suffer the
direct consequences of our residential areas being inundated
with transients, even after dark, and from having their homes
marked when they are away.
We were told that it was the law that these solicitors were to
be allowed in our neighborhoods. When we have bad laws
that are working for us, our legislators and the people that we
pay to manage our Township should be working to change those
laws. The Chief had no problem protesting the county's
edict that a central 911 call system be set up. He spent
a great deal of time and money making presentations and telling
people that we would be less safe. I would like him to do
that on behalf of the solicitation laws. If
statistics cannot be provided that we are more safe with all of
these transients in our neighborhoods, and when we understand
that burglars and crooks often succeed at their "craft" by then I would like our
representatives in our government to change any law on behalf of
their oath to protect our health safety and welfare.
THE RULES AND ARE THEY WORKING ?
Rules: solicitors must sign up at the Township building and pay
$100 a day ( soon to be $200 per month ) to be able to solicit.
But guess what ? -- They are
all over our neighborhoods since this passed and not a
single one that I have called is legally registered. They
are throwing things in the driveway and they are taping things
to mailboxes, so you only have to drive up and down the street
to see who hasn't been home for a week. People who
carefully have their mail and papers taken in, cannot
protect themselves from this kind of intrusion. The police
have seemed helpless to do anything and to my knowledge have not
cited or fined a single person for leaving the literature
without registering. One who was a third time offender
we have been told would be cited. Was he? Did he pay? I was told that letters would be sent
out warning them. As of this writing I have received no copied
of any- I did request them for those who solicited at my door
and were unregistered.
Before this ordinance was passed , I did
not have to pay my Township personnel to send out letters, or my
police to come and inspect the "evidence". It was a
completely rare occurrence that may have happened tow or 3 x a
year . Why are the ones breaking the law not paying for
the officers and clerical time? Why do we not have a
publicly published list of those who have been warned. We
should also have an accounting of what the cost of all this
police time is versus the money that they have collected from
the offenders. The law is simply not working. Law abiding
citizens footing the bill puts the shoe on the wrong foot. And
if there If there is no will to cite the lawbreakers, the victims
pay, as they do in so many instances. Before this
was passed, our rights were largely respected.
WHAT YOU CAN DO - You should call the Township each time you
get a flyer, card or solicitor at your door .
Call the Records office 267-536-1100 x 1047 to see if they are
registered . If they are not, then send a copy of the
evidence to the township, or call an officer to take a
report or fax a copy to the Township ( Fax # 215-886-1455
attention Susan Dixon ) and ask them to make sure they keep a log
of these calls/violations reported. I would also ask that
send the name of the
contractor to me with a quick email so we can get an
overall picture of who is doing this and if action is being
Chief Kelly ( circa 5-12 ) suggested that anyone who has a
question just call the 911 system and an officer will be sent
out. A policy that does not enable the officer to
cite someone who has been delivering a flyer at a door unless an
emergency number is called, is simply a wrongheaded policy.
Our emergency system has been set up for emergencies. The
new dispatch requires that any time you need an officer, you
must call the emergency number even if it's not an emergency.
In my opinion, flooding the 911 system with calls like this will
make us less safe. It will be outrageously costly because
911 officers have to be trained for serious emergencies .
In addition, individuals will be inclined not to call because no
one wants to cry wolf and declare emergencies where they don't
exist. And on top of that, no Abington resident should be
inconvenienced by needing to host police officers in their home
because they were targeted by a commercial company. Every
single thing about this policy is wrong in my belief.
Please share your thoughts with me on this.
YOU CAN ALSO OPT OUT BUT...... :
The ordinance provides for you to sign up on the list at the Township building
and solicitors are given your house
number and told that they may not solicit there. But..........
since almost none of solicitors are going to the Township
building first, this provision of the ordinance is pretty much
NO TRESPASSING :
You may post
a no solicitation or no trespassing sign : but that can be
threatening to neighbors providing valuable information you may
want and need or
neighbors who would like to invite you or others with
friendly causes like the children whose school drive
you may want to support. I know I don't want to have
a community like that, just because my township failed to keep commercial
solicitors out of the neighborhood, which all of us want .
YOUR VOICE NEEDED
: Ask your Commissioner to amend the
ordinance so no one is allowed to leave information at your door
( their trash on your property ) which may indicate you're not
home. If they want to get information to you, we have
mailboxes for that . Ask that any and all solicitors be
required to have their full contact
info visible as they walk in our neighborhoods, on both sides (
so that it can't be "turned around" and that they
are required to have their registration permit # on any
literature they hand you . This will help residents know
that they are required to do this and they will know that when
others don't have it they are there illegally, have not been
"vetted even so far as to have provided a name and phone # .
BETTER YET .... ask your Commissioners and your Chief of Police
and Township Manager to stand up for your rights ---
to gather together with other Townships and challenge the State
Law that they are saying "requires " them to allow solicitors (
We believe there is plenty of law that allows Commercial
Solicitors to be excluded for reasons of safety )
1 YEAR UPDATE
11-10 Update a year after the passing : The solicitation ordinance
that was passed by year ago has spawned a proliferation of
solicitors that are now "legally" in our neighborhoods - though
most are NOT legal . In my opinion, it has made our
Township substantially more dangerous - in many
PROBLEMS WITH THE ORDINANCE AS PASSED
Solicitors are now allowed at any door in the Township that does
not post a no trespassing or no solicitation sign, or is not on
the Township sign-up list ( and let's face it most residents do
not even know about the Township sign-up list---and even if they
do sign up solicitors regularly violate all regulations,
this one would certainly be no different )
Solicitors apparently are not required even to have full contact
information on flyers that they leave at your door, so you
have no way of knowing who has been at your door -nor are they
required to leave notice that they have been there. One
solicitor, a curb # painter, had flyers all over the Township
but could not even be located by the Township-so they certainly
had not signed up, nor paid.
No one wants to cry wolf - so we pay less attention now
that we know the people going up and down our driveways and at
our doors could be legal. Before, we were alert when we saw
someone go to more than one house. We watched out for each other
and had few strangers in our neighborhoods to worry about.
Even legitimately signed up solicitors can be casing your
house for someone else. I do not want to post a no
trespassing sign to discourage friends neighbors or others ( by
law every one is to pay attention to such a sign) and yet - I do
not want every Tom Dick and Harry to be able to come beyond the
end of my driveway where the public sidewalk is. I could
sign up on the "do not solicit list on the Township" but since
only a tiny fraction of residents know about this list and since
all the rules and regulations are regularly disregarded by
solicitors, this is not a reasonable solution to a Township wide
Our elderly, and people who live alone are more vulnerable.
It is absurd to create a law, when there are so many other ways
to do business, that would put both my family, and disabled,
elderly, or those who are alone at greater risk
How is it corporate voices have been put ahead of ours
again? I would venture a guess that very few really
want this -- so if our legislators are working in
our interests, this kind of thing should not keep happening
again and again. Like many other things that we have been forced
into to accommodate businesses, we should be opting in not
having to opt out.
Things that led up to the passing of this
10th 2009 the Township will hold a hearing about passing an ordinance that
would allow commercial solicitors to obtain a permit and come
to your door and
has a section on "canvassers" who would also have to comply
with no solicitation signs. Included in this definition are
those who :
..... conduct any similar work [to those doing surveys or coming
for religious or political purposes] which, by its nature,
involves door-to-door or place-to-place activity, including
distribution of circulars but not for commercial activity of
C) Permit fees are set at $100 per day , prohibitive to
your neighbor's son starting his own landscaping venture who
might mow your lawn at 1/2 the price, but a large company who
charges much more would be welcome to meet these fees and hire
people to solicit township wide -another example of how the big
guys bump out everyone else & keep prices high .
So let's see --
Neighbors letting neighbors know about issues like .......the
re-zoning......like the Old York Road Corridor..... like a
block party ...... or like this ordinance could be required
to cease & desist or face the penalties the way the language is written currently,
if they wanted to be free to let ALL neighbors know .
And people who didn't want solicitors SELLING things and had to
post a no solicitation sign to prevent that, would now be blocking out things
they might want. This does not really work well for
us, as residents who need more communication and more
information in our government process, does it?
When I suggested that we needed language to ensure
that neighbors were not inhibited from talking to their
neighbors - especially about important issues, it was suggested
in return to me that "selective enforcement " might even take
place - the police might not bother some for violating this
ordinance. OK but with a single "complaint" you might be
in fear of suffering the $100 to $1,000 fine (and imprisonment).
Can you imagine the effect this would have on communication
between residents (which already needs as much help as it can
get ) . Communications at virtually every level have already in
this township have been interfered with. You only have to watch
the Nov 12 , 2009 Commissioners meeting to see how hard the
Commissioners work to keep me from reading out the above
wording so that the others in the room know what I am talking
about. The interference has done a great deal to keep
residents in the dark about what their government officials are
Advertised in November, this
item will apparently come up for a hearing Dec 10th
Here are some things for you to consider .
do you believe that the township
should even allow commercial enterprises onto your doorstep?
There are issues of people on shift work having their peace
disturbed, for instance, as well as security issues .
Unless the majority wants this - we should have a legal right to
curtail this annoyance.,
Second - if
we are somehow "forced" into this (not without a fight, I would
hope ) should it be that those who
DO want to allow solicitors to come up to their doors post a
"Solicitors Allowed" sign rather that the other way
around. There is some case law about that I believe but I
think we would want to examine this thoroughly. If the
case law was obtained while citizens were uniformed, it would
explain a lot.
shouldn't there be strong and specific
language in this ordinance that this policy does not apply to
neighbors sharing information with neighbors or
coming with an invitation or coming to talk about a tree limb
or other matter. Our prior ordinance did not exclude non-profits
or political candidates or neighbors - which is why I believe it
DID conform with the law .
Fourth - shouldn't there be a strong
differentiation between commercial solicitors /canvassers/ and
neighbors- and shouldn't we make sure that is
spelled out clearly & no one is forced into blocking out all
just because they want to block
out one. There are 5 groups --- Solicitors as commercial-for
funds/ Non- Profits for funds / Non- Profits for info not funds
/ Canvassers for info not funds / Neighbors for info not funds
These are 5 completely separate concepts. Otherwise no
one will be able to have others at their door if they do not
also want commercial solicitors.
has told us case law now requires us to permit the commercial.
But when I asked for the case law, what my commissioner gave me
did not seem to me to verify a need to change at all
Green River, Wyoming vs. Fuller Brush Company, 65 F.2d 112
(10th Cir. 1933) and that one was LOST by Fuller
Brush company and there is much discussion on the internet about
that decision being upheld. Where those ordinances have
been challenged is where they tried to exclude religious
or other entities along with the commercial.
The second was
Edenfield v. Fane, 507
U.S. 761 (1993). and this seems not to be directly about
door to door solicitation at all - the case involves phone &
other direct contact.
If the law as it stands - or "case
law" was the end all or be all of what was legal - we
would never see two lawyers on opposite sides of an issue. And I
believe that many other townships could be considered possible
allies in this issue . I have seen our township expose us
to litigation in areas where our saftey was not an issue & for
benefits that only a small number of residents will enjoy the
advantages of ---- I would certainly like to think that my
township would work for my interests here.
Commissioners voted Nov 14th 2009 to allow the
advertising of this ordinance
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