What City Laws Do ELi Readers Want Changed?

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Earlier in October, ELi asked you, the readers, what East Lansing laws or ordinances you’d like to see changed or refined. 

ELi undertook this survey to give readers and residents a chance to weigh in on possible changes to the City’s Code of Ordinances as they undergo review.

Now, we bring you the responses to that survey, which will be shared with City Council and the City Attorney. In total, ELi received four responses. Two pertained to parking, another to electronic dog leashes, and the fourth addressed the number of City Council members.

(Editor’s note: “They” is used in this story as a singular personal pronoun for each of the respondents.)

1. City Council should have seven members

The respondent for this item wrote: “7 members seems like a reasonable number. That way if 2 members abruptly quit in the middle of a meeting, 3 people wouldn’t be left scrambling to run the council while the community quickly vets their replacements. 7 members allows for more representation across the boards/commission without being too cumbersome.”

They allude to the resignations of Mayor Ruth Beier and Council Member Mark Meadows in July, which left Council hamstrung until it could appoint two new members.

And here is what the respondent said were some issues with the current structure of the City Council: “5 council members means more work for each member and fewer opinions on important issues. More members would allow council to take a more active role in more areas. As it currently stands (prior to Covid), much of their time and energy is spent on downtown development, which is very important, however, if there were more members, they could also focus on social issues, parks and rec, and the many other areas citizens care about.” 

They continued: “More members also allows for a more diverse representation of the community; not just the ‘look’ of the council, but what they bring to the table from their professional life. It also minimizes the chances of alliances, whether they are real or perceived, from occurring. These ‘alliances’ have turned certain issues before council from public discussions to elementary playground fights at times. The citizens and potential business owners before council are the ones that suffer. Certain topics/projects are not even brought forward due to the agenda/alliance (perceived or not) of particular members.”

After the resignation of Beier and Meadows, at one point Mayor Pro Tem Jessy Gregg floated the notion of adding more members to the City Council. But, Gregg noted, the number of City Council members is written into the City Charter and changing that requires a ballot measure decided on by voters.

2. Allow electronic dog leashes

On January 22, 2020, City Council approved Ordinance 1481 which prohibits the use of electronic dog leashes in East Lansing. 

One respondent wrote that they’d like the City to revert to the previous law which allowed for their dog to be walked without a physical leash or tether.

They wrote: “Overly draconian; old law was fine; no evidence of serious problems except the former mayor’s own admission that she had difficulty controlling her own dogs even on a physical leash: “I can control my dog in the sense that she can never get away from me when I am walking her, but I can’t stop her from beating the snot out of another dog who runs up to her and comes within six feet of me.” Her main issues seemed to be misperceptions about dogs on shock leashes and about the leashes themselves. Were any professional dog trainers consulted?”

Further, they outlined how the electronic collars can work in practice, citing their own dog as an example.

They said “If the city wants to require owners to get a certification that their dog is restrained by a shock collar, then that is fine, but outright banning them due to misperceptions is another example of EL silliness. By the way, my dog’s shock collar operates on low voltage and also has a sound button. She is VERY well trained. We walk her 4 times daily and rarely give anything other than voice commands; 99% of time the sound alert is all that is needed to maintain my dogs attention, and the occasional shock she receives is very low voltage–I have administered it to myself many times to check.”

3. Less “militant enforcement” for parking, particularly regarding residents

The first of two responses specifically about issues of parking, this respondent wrote: “There should be a parking permit for all city parking that is given to those paying both the income tax and property taxes in East Lansing. The militant enforcement for parking for permanent city residents is a deterrent to going down town to pick up food or other shopping. If that isn’t feasible property taxpayers should have a waiver process.”

Their suggested solution was “parking enforcement ordinances.” 

4. Relax the rules for yard parking

The fourth respondent wrote: “A homeowner can/will be ticketed if part of their tires on one side of a vehicle are off the driveway.”

Current City law requires cars be parked “entirely upon a driveway or parking space” built to code. 

The respondent’s suggested compromise is “if a vehicle’s tires are partially on the driveway they shouldn’t be ticketed.”

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