Guest Column: A look behind some of the ordinance updates

Guest Column by Daphney Maras

Daphney Maras

 

Not long after taking the position of city clerk, I reviewed the city’s ordinances and items the city licensed. I soon realized many items were in need of an update. Gone were the days of the cabaret (yes, this really was a license the city issued), and in came the days in which people rent extra space in their homes (welcome Airbnbers!). As a team, we sought to modernize the code in three key ways: to keep people safe, to meet the needs of our residents and businesses, and to fit with the way we live, work and play.

We updated our mobile food vendor ordinance, creating more places that food trucks could sell to those who attended Thursdays on Fountain, work downtown or took their boats on Fountain Lake.

We worked with our CVB board and executive director to rewrite the hotel licensing we perform. Sex trafficking prevention training is now required. We also expanded the definition of “hotel/motel” to include extended-stay hotels and vacation rentals.

Staff from inspections and public works departments provided input about how to reduce the expense and time that plumbers incurred when performing work in the city. We implemented the measures they suggested.

The Parks Department shared insight on how to protect our tree canopy, requesting tree trimmers register with the state. We also clarified definitions that will promote the health of our urban forest.

Law enforcement and the city attorney collaborated to revise our transient merchant license. Now if one goes door-to-door, the city does require a permit.

We took these actions because we live, work and play differently than we did when these ordinances and licenses were created. As a team, we work together to devise ordinances that reflect the way our community presently works. We want to ensure that our ordinances keep us safe and serve our residents and businesses. And we are not done yet — next up we will amend some ordinances that protect our four-legged friends.

Daphney Maras is the Albert Lea city clerk.