Tucson city council passes "upgrades" on 3 ordinances - Tucson News Now

Tucson city council passes "upgrades" on 3 ordinances

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

In one council session, the Tucson City Council passed and updated three ordinances making all tougher and more stringent. 

Related to distracted driving, the council passed an ordinance that prohibits using an electronic device while driving a car. 

But the vote was not unanimous. Council members Steve Kozachik and Richard Fimbres voted no. Not because either is against the ban, but both felt it did not go far enough.

Under the ordinance, 11442, the ban is not a primary offense, it's secondary. Which means, there must be another violation, or another reason, to stop the motorist.

Handheld by Tucson News Now on Scribd

The council also agreed to revisit the issue in six months. It appears at that time, there will be enough support to make it a primary offense. In part, because it will likely be recommended by the Tucson Police Department.

"We would prefer to see it as a primary offense," said Tucson police chief Chris Magnus. "We hope in time that will be the direction that the city moves."

It will take affect May 1, 2017.

In another ordinance update, the city amended the 'Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance" dealing with "unruly gatherings."

It's frequently called the "red tag" ordinance because police will post a red tag on a home or business that has been cited for a loud or unruly party and gathering.

Red Tags by Tucson News Now on Scribd

It's modeled on a Phoenix ordinance, which requires those cited a second time to pay for the police response costs. In Tucson's case, it would be capped at $1,000. 

The council wanted to make it hurt.

"I recognize the disruptions and the loss of quality of life that a pattern of unruly gatherings can cause for people," said council member Karin Uhlich, whose Ward III, borders the university. 

Also, at the request of Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, the council passed a "hate crimes" ordinance that covers misdemeanor damage to schools, churches, and synagogues.

The state of Arizona has a hate crimes statute which covers felonies. Tucson's will cover only misdemeanors. Tucson city court hears only misdemeanor crimes. It can include things such as phone calls, verbal harassment, graffiti, and endangerment. 

Hate Crimes by Tucson News Now on Scribd

Fines for repeated offenses can go up to $2,500 and a maximum jail time of 40 days. 

"I hope with this bill passing, it will not only send a message to people that these things are off limits," said Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin, of Chabad Tucson. "But it will not only make people think twice but maybe three times before they commit such a crime."

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