PORTERDALE -- The City Council agreed at a work session Tuesday night to move forward with adoption of the state's public indecency ordinance in order to be able to prosecute violations in Municipal Court.
The council initially began discussion of the ordinance as a possible way to regulate the wearing of baggy pants. An earlier version of the proposed ordinance included a provision that would make it unlawful to wear pants or skirts more than 3 inches below the hips, exposing the skin or undergarments.
However, the city's solicitor, Robert Piccaretto, advised that wearing saggy pants has been deemed to be a form of expression. "A pure saggy pants ordinance" could result in costly litigation for the city, Piccaretto wrote to the council, and he suggested letting other jurisdictions "test the waters" until there is a definitive judicial ruling on the matter.
Councilwoman Linda Finger said she would like the city to enact the ordinance, without the subsection that specifically addressed wearing baggy pants or skirts, so that the city could prosecute violations and the resulting fines would go to the city rather than to the state.
Councilmembers present Tuesday night agreed to move forward with the public indecency ordinance at the next regular meeting on April 2. Absent from the work session were Councilmembers Mike Harper and Lowell Chambers.
The council also discussed entering an agreement with Municode, a company that could codify the city's ordinances and make them available online.
City Clerk Judy Johnson told the council that the city's code of ordinances has not been codified since 2003, and there have been multiple updates and revisions that have not been incorporated.
A rough estimate of the cost to have Municode codify the ordinances is $10,000, which could be paid over a period of two years.
"It's going to be a large project to undertake," Johnson said.
The council asked Johnson to get a better cost estimate for the work for future council discussion.