West Seattle city attorney rep: Ready to fight illegal solicitors

Just back from a meeting tonight involving neighbors banding together to fight crime – not a regularly scheduled meeting, but one called by the Fairmount Springs neighborhood, and held at West Seattle Church of the Nazarene (42nd/Juneau). We’ll publish a separate story about crimefighting tips and questions, including answers by Block Watch leaders as well as Community Police Team Officer Ken Mazzuca, but first a short story with a separate topic that came up – always a hot topic here: Door-to-door solicitors. When a meeting attendee asked, “So what’s legal?” deputy city attorney Beth Gappert, who is liaison to the Southwest Precinct and therefore based here in West Seattle, jumped up.

“Residential selling IS legal,” she began, but then went on to very clearly explain the rules that we’ve linked to here, time and time again, though without quite as vivid an explanation. “The company that’s selling is required to have a license. Each employee must have a residential agent’s license. It must be displayed prominently on their clothing. And each employee must have a copy of the company’s business license.”

Sounds easy enough, but Gappert went on to say that she’s checked the records and “only about half a dozen businesses have residential sellers’ licenses in the city – so the vast majority of sellers do NOT have licenses.” That means they’re operating illegally – as is the case if a solicitor of any kind knocks on a door despite a “no soliciting” sign – and, she added, “It is illegal if you ask them to leave and they refuse.” If ANY of those circumstances happen, Gappert stressed – with Officer Mazzuca at her side – “I highly encourage people to call the police over this issue. We know this precinct is going crazy over solicitors. I see the reports. I read about it on (WSB). … Make a report, be willing to testify, so we can prosecute. … Officers in this area are ready to go after them.”

Still got questions/concerns? Come to tomorrow night’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting — Gappert is almost always there, as are CPT officers and leaders — 7 pm Tuesday, Southwest Precinct (Delridge/Webster). Meantime, watch for our second story from the meeting, with advice from the police, and neighbor-to-neighbor, on fighting and deterring the crimes we hear about the most these days – burglaries and car prowls.

8 Replies to "West Seattle city attorney rep: Ready to fight illegal solicitors"

  • Ex-Westwood Resident October 19, 2009 (11:15 pm)

    I wish people were as excited about going after ILLEGAL ALIENS as they are about going after ILLEGAL SOLICITORS

  • Leroniusmonkfish October 20, 2009 (12:03 am)

    Well Ex-Westwood Resident it sounds like you would be right at home down here in AZ with our whacked-out sheriff.


    Mr. Sheriff Arpaio apparently doesn’t listen to the Justice Dept. nor Homeland Security as it recently revised the rules of the federal program, known as 287(g) to keep A-holes like him and his underpaid servants (officers) from racial profiling.

    But alas he continues to discriminate and falsely incarcerate innocent Americans until proof of citizenship is provided. I would hate to be a Latino out walking my unleashed dog here without my wallet as I would end up spending the night in “Tent City” with murderers, gangsters, etc….

    I wouldn’t wish this prick on any Eastern Washington farming community.

  • sacatosh October 20, 2009 (7:53 am)

    This is great news, EXCEPT: Has anyone informed the folks at dispatch that this is now something the police are focusing on? Last I heard they were still refusing to even send the call to the officers, and instead telling people to call back later, or go into the station and make a report (same station which we all know is unmanned half the time due to budget issues)

    Is everyone now on the same page? Or do the officers have a focus on something they’re never going to hear about due to the roadblock at the dispatch center?

  • Mike October 20, 2009 (9:08 am)

    How did we get from an article on solicitors to illegal aliens? One is local government, the other is Federal. Two vastly different areas of law enforcement.

  • owen October 20, 2009 (9:09 am)

    To re-rail the conversation:
    I think it is worth pointing out that there are a lot of sellers fall under the exemptions from license requirements listed in the city code. The code specifically exempts solicitors selling newspapers, fresh produce or perishable items, and, bizarrely, people taking orders for out-of-state companies. They still have to respect “No Soliciting” signs, and other requirements for all residential sellers, but don’t have to have a license.
    Here’s the wording for the last exception from licensing requirements: “Any person who merely solicits orders for goods, which orders are to be accepted and goods delivered at a future time from a place outside of Washington State.”
    That seems broad to me. Am I reading it right – if a solicitor is taking orders for an out of state company, no license is needed?
    Also, is the list of the small handful of sellers that have licenses available online?

  • sacatosh October 20, 2009 (11:15 am)

    WSB: My question may have been lost in the off-topic junk at the beginning of the thread. I’m comment #3. Is there any way you can find out the answer to this question? It’s been a common complaint that dispatch and enforcement are not aligned, so I think it’s a very valid question.


  • WSB October 20, 2009 (11:23 am)

    Every meeting I’ve been to, they acknowledge there are occasional disconnects, but yes, precinct leadership has spoken to 911 management. Doesn’t mean you won’t get a dispatcher who’s not on the same page – TR

  • Dom October 20, 2009 (3:13 pm)

    What about girl scouts or high school students that are legitimately trying to raise money? Do people with the “no soliciiting” signs care if these kids rang their doorbell? Just wondering because I have a middle school child but I don’t want her going to a house she’s not wanted at.

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