Thursday afternoon, Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen will be at the Hard Rock Cafe, of all places, to announce details of an agreement forged with the four companies responsible for most of the street canvassers who call out to you, stick clipboards in your face and try to shake your hand in an effort to get your signature and sign you up for a variety of do-good causes.
The 6-point code of conduct — you can read it in full, below — calls for limits of engagement including defining exactly how a canvasser might physically engage a passerby — “Canvassers will not intrude on a pedestrian by slowing or blocking their path.”
No word yet on whether Tim Burgess is taking notes on the situation.
According to Council staff, the agreement on the code of conduct was forged after nearly a year of talks between the canvassing companies, downtown business representatives and City Hall.
“Local businesses, hotels and meeting planners have felt aggressive canvassing has had a detrimental impact on the Downtown Seattle shopping experience,” the announcement about the announcement reads.
And while it has been set in place to manage the downtown environment, all the Capitol Hill community likely needs to do to bring changes to Broadway and Pike/Pine is get its business community coordinated to push for a Capitol Hill agreement, too.
“If they didn’t want this to be more heavily regulated, they had to self regulate,” the staffer said. “Downtown business organizations took the initiative after we met with them.”
The new code of conduct is a voluntary agreement with the four companies with names like Fund for Public Outreach and Public Outreach Group and there is no regulatory or enforcement aspect of the plan at this time. But the situation will be heavily monitored and groups involve know that legislation could be right around the corner if the situation on downtown sidewalks doesn’t improve
Code of Conduct Language
Pike & Pine Street Canvassing Organizations
I, the undersigned, own, operate or manage a business located on Pike and Pine Street between Pike Place Market and 9th Avenue. Our signatures below indicate our support of the following guidelines for organizations that canvass, solicit, or otherwise act on behalf of nonprofit organizations, causes, and groups in the Pike & Pine Street Business Association area as described herein:
1. Canvassers will not stop the flow of traffic or block a pedestrian’s walking path.
2. Canvassers will not walk backwards or alongside a pedestrian in an attempt to follow or engage the pedestrian.
3. Canvassers will not aggressively beg or solicit members of the public. Canvassers will not intrude on a pedestrian by slowing or blocking their path. Canvassers may invite a pedestrian or pedestrians to stop and engage them. Canvassers will remain stationary (fixed in one place) or can move toward a pedestrian no more than one step. Should a pedestrian choose NOT to stop or to be engaged, the pedestrian will be politely thanked and allowed to move on with interruption.
4. All professional canvassers (excluding those who work directly for the charity for whom they are fundraising) must identify that they are working for a canvassing agency and not the charity itself.
5. All canvassers must be clearly identifiable as such (i.e. always wearing an ID badge and charity branded clothing – shirts in summer, jackets or bibs in the winter).
6. Canvassers will always end a conversation in a polite and respectful manner as soon as they are asked to.
I, the undersigned, understand that organizations agreeing to the terms and conditions described herein do so on a voluntary basis and, consequently, acknowledge their appreciation for these organizations preserving, maintaining, and fostering positive relations and working as good neighbors within our community.
Plastic Bag Ban
Meanwhile, in more news re: City Council progress, Slog reports that the Northwest Grocery Association supports the Council plan to ban plastic shopping bags and institute a five-cent fee for paper bags.
“The Nickels administration was married to this idea a 20-cent bag tax that went to government—that was a nonstarter,” says Gilliam. His group stayed “neutral” on that fight “and we all saw the results of it,” he says. The American Chemistry Council funded a $1.4 million campaign that ultimately overturned that measure in August 2009.