Dexter Council Ponders Kicking Door-to-Door Solicitors to the Curb


In a solid move to combat the nuisance of unwanted knock-knocks and, “Hello, do you have a moment?” Dexter City Council is weighing an ordinance that could make door-to-door sales as outdated as dial-up internet.

In its October 23 meeting, Dexter City Council deliberated a proposed ordinance that, if enacted, would permit residents to choose whether or not they want salespeople knocking on their door.

City Manager Justin Breyer reported increased community complaints about solicitors, noting, “Recently, staff has received a number of calls and complaints regarding door-to-door solicitors. At least one resident has specifically asked about the ability to opt-out from solicitors visiting their residence.”

The draft ordinance includes a "No Solicitation Registry," enabling residents to state their preference against unsolicited visits officially. Key objectives of the ordinance are to:

  1. Provide residents with a choice over solicitor visits.
  2. Reduce resident complaints regarding door-to-door solicitors.
  3. Establish penalties for non-compliance by solicitors.
  4. Address concerns about aggressive sales tactics in home solicitations.

Additionally, the ordinance proposes easy access for residents to sign up or withdraw from the registry online and in person. Hawkers and peddlers would receive updated lists from those registered linked to the issuance of their permits.

The city requires hawkers, peddlers, and solicitors to apply for and be granted a permit before going door-to-door in the city. “Hawker” is an antiquated term for someone who travels about selling goods, often loudly advertising them. A “peddler” is also a traveling vendor, selling goods or services door-to-door or in public places. A “solicitor” in the context of door-to-door activity, is someone who approaches individuals, usually at their homes, to offer goods, services, or information. The key distinction is that solicitors may not always be selling a physical product. They can include people seeking donations for charities, offering home services, or even advocating for religious or political causes.

Councilmember Michels suggested integrating a requirement for signage at residences opting out. Michels also inquired about possibly imposing a registration fee on residents to offset administrative and enforcement expenses.

In response, City Manager Breyer expressed his opinion against such fees, stating, “I don’t think we need to charge the residents for registration.” He clarified that the sheriff's office would manage any violations.

The meeting also touched upon whether property owners or occupants should hold the right to opt-out and if individual units in apartment complexes must register separately. Furthermore, the council debated potential exceptions for political canvassing.

The draft ordinance, currently in the discussion phase, will be revised considering the Council's input and resubmitted for further evaluation at an upcoming meeting. No decisions were finalized during the meeting.

Photo by Doug Marrin

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