Soldotna City Council rejected an ordinance that would to prohibit the use of hand-held electronic devices, like cellphones, while driving in school zones and on school property.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, the ordinance failed with a 5 to 1 vote.
Council member Jordan Chilson, the sole ‘yes’ vote, introduced the ordinance as a response to House Bill 333, which gave cities the ability to regulate the use of cellphones while operating a motor vehicle in active school zones and on school property.
“This is kind of an issue at the high school level,” Chilson said. “They do deal with some high school students texting while driving, but it was not nearly as much of an issue as it was at an elementary level with parents coming and sitting in these pick up lines and not necessarily putting their eyes above the wheel while moseying forward.”
Other council members agreed that it is an issue, but cited a lack of ability to enforce the proposed ordinance.
“I don’t see the need for another ordinance to tell people they can’t do this when they probably know by common sense that they shouldn’t be doing it,” council member Paul Whitney said. “They’re just going to continue doing it.”
Several schools throughout the district have addressed the issue by putting up bright signage warning against cellphone use. Council members said the signage and further action from the school district to educate against these types of behavior are both needed to address the situation, not further legislation.
At an earlier meeting, Soldotna Police Chief Peter Mlynarik said Soldotna Police don’t often write citations for using a device while driving. Since 2016, the department has issued just four citations for driving.
“That kind of shows you the challenge to finding people who are actually doing it,” Mlynarik said. “That said, it’s not a big workload for the department for this ordinance, but as the history shows we’re not writing many citations on it.”
Reach Kat Sorensen at email@example.com.
• By KAT SORENSEN, Peninsula Clarion