idle-free ordinance advances

By Jim Stanford on March 15, 2010

Tags: , ,

Breathing soon will get easier on cold winter days. (Photo by Bob King/AP)

Willie Neal would have been proud.

The Jackson Town Council voted unanimously today to move forward with an idle-free ordinance championed by the late nordic skiing standout.

After listening to impassioned public comment, councilors instructed staff to prepare a draft ordinance, which will face three readings before becoming law. At least 12 citizens spoke in favor, with no objections.

Details still must be worked out, but the ordinance generally would require motorists to shut off their vehicles when parked on public streets and parking lots. The measure would be accompanied by an educational and public outreach campaign. First offenders likely would get a warning.

The move would help reduce pollution and waste of fuel while improving air quality and public health, supporters said.

All five councilors agreed.

Greg Miles put forth the motion to approve, and Melissa Turley spoke strongly in favor, as did Mayor Mark Barron.

Not a bad motto.

Police Chief Todd Smith said he contacted law enforcement in Rawlins, Wyo., Ketchum, Idaho, and Aspen, Colo., where similar idle-free laws have been enacted, and found that the measures presented no enforcement problems for officers. Chief Smith said he favored the approach taken by Ketchum, which allows idling vehicles to be ticketed within a short period of time.

Fortunately, Pathways Coordinator Brian Schilling already has prepared a draft modeled after the Ketchum ordinance, and it shouldn’t take long to work the final language into shape.

Among the more passionate pleas for action came from Mary Neal, Willie’s mom, and two high school students, dressed in coats and ties, who could have given Gerry Spence a duel in oration. Three physicians emphasized the harmful effects on public health from toxins in vehicle exhaust.

As evidenced by this video, even at a precocious age, Willie Neal was fearless in setting a higher standard for environmental stewardship and social justice.

Kudos to councilors for showing the courage to take a small but significant step.

mobilizing against idling (March 4, 2010)
in memoriam: Willie Neal (June 23, 2009)

(Top photo by Bob King / Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, via AP)


Posted under Crime, Environment, Politics, Town Government

16 Comments so far

  1. Suzy March 16, 2010 8:20 am

    That’s just totally awesome! Way to go Jackson!!!!!!!! And way to go high school students!!!!!

  2. Gimpy March 16, 2010 8:56 am

    Way to go Jackson ! This town is the best at wasting time and passing laws that are stupid. We don’t have sidewalks throughout town and yet we somehow need a bouldering park and no idling laws. I see our local law enforcement agencies & taxi drivers doing the most idling.
    Why not work on sidewalks around town so that folks could more easily walk and then they wouldn’t park infront of Pearl Street bagels with the car running ? Willie might be gone but there are plenty of folks still breathing that could benefit from sidewalks.

  3. D March 16, 2010 10:07 am

    JS: I could send you a picture of the no idle sign from the Upper Green River Basin Gas Fields if you would like?

  4. skip March 16, 2010 1:21 pm

    I agree with the sidewalk issue, but I also believe in this ordinance. And I agree with the bouldering park. I don’t see that you have to oppose one thing to support another. Idling is a waste of gas and a source of pollution, and it is a major cause of problems with indoor air quality as thoughtless individuals leave their cars running near the doors of establishents or by the fresh air intakes of climate-controlled buildings. I also appreciate the example the young people of this community set by getting behind a cause championed by one of their own. The image many have of young people is that they are lazy and apathetic, but these young people prove that wrong every day.

  5. D March 16, 2010 2:52 pm

    Skip: $ $ $ where is the prioritys is the question? However this will make more money so….

  6. skip March 16, 2010 10:08 pm

    yeah, you make no sense…

  7. Suzy March 17, 2010 5:49 am

    Does local law enforcement need to keep their vehicles running to keep their computers going, or special equipment in the vehicle? I think that might be the reason they idle, but I’m not sure.

    I think having the ordinance would go a long way in getting some of the transportation and tour operators to talk to their staff about idling.

    Congratulations to all the awesome young (and old) people who care about the environment, public health, and the future of our world!

    D, do you really think this is a money making conspiracy?? Do you think these kids are trying to make millions? Many of the children involved with this effort live comfortable lives here in Jackson. Do you seriously doubt these people’s motivation? I know some of the people involved in this effort have more than one house in Jackson, and they are spending their own money and time to make bumper stickers, and raise awareness. I don’t see how you think they are making money doing this. They already have money. They are trying to make a positive change for our environment, and the future of our world. Why should that be so scary to you?

    There is a sidewalk in front of Pearl Street bagels, how has this created more parking? I agree, the town needs more sidewalks, but what on Earth does this have to do with idling?

    You said: “Willie might be gone but there are plenty of folks still breathing that could benefit from sidewalks.”
    I say: “Willie might be gone, but there are plenty of folks still breathing (exhaust from idling cars with no need to be idling) that could benefit from a no idling ordinance.”

    And thank goodness Willie was breathing to get all this going! What an amazing young man he was, full of hope for the future in his very short lifetime!

  8. Useless March 17, 2010 8:42 am

    Why does the town of Jackson need an anti-idling law when there is already a Wyoming state law that prohibits leaving unattended vehicles running ? Why pass a local law when a state one exists that apparently isn’t being enforced ?

  9. D March 17, 2010 9:59 am

    If you would read more then mine you wouldn’t look so ignorant. I said $ is the question concerning the priorities of Jackson in response to this: Skip said “I agree with the sidewalk issue, but I also believe in this ordinance. And I agree with the bouldering park. I don’t see that you have to oppose one thing to support another.” Pointing out that you DONT have to oppose one to support another but $$$ being the problem because you can’t have it all right now so what is more important sidewalks or Parks? Who knows? I never said anywhere that I thought this was a money making scheme and I have written about 10,000 words on it so far. I think maybe you are getting concerned because as this post continues more and more of the people who were against my idea at first are beginning to see the light. You forget that I am against idling I just don’t think I have the right to make decisions for other people (READ MY POST ABOVE). I never once mentioned anything about the young people in the community Good or Bad, but now I will. I think what they do is great even if I disagree with some of it, we all know at that age you think you can solve all the worlds problems unfortunately reality gets to set you straight after you get out of college, However good for them for trying. They have done a great job on raising awareness and getting the word out and I commend them on that. It is the principal behind it I have been arguing the whole time. Read all the post and then get back to me, I NEVER SAID THIS “SUZ” said I said: “Willie might be gone but there are plenty of folks still breathing that could benefit from sidewalks.” LOOK AGAIN. Your small mindedness is hardly worth my time, but to set you straight my point this whole time was that we need a change on a National if not Global level to make a real difference and you won’t do that with and ordinance in Jackson. You will do it by changing the culture we live and grow up in. I won’t repeat all my points because you missed them the first time, if you really want to have a discussion start with reading my entire posts and then not confusing it with other peoples. In conclusion how much money someone has, has absolutely NOTHING TO DO with this you look dumb for pointing that out. When I said “However this will make more money so….” I meant this ordinance will collect money for the city which may help with sidewalk and parks so… in my eyes it’s not different then raising tax’s. You could just turn the square into a toll-way and make money to but where do you draw the line.

  10. js March 17, 2010 10:29 am

    @useless: state law only applies to unattended vehicles. the Rawlins ordinance, for example, reinforces the existing statute but expands it to include attended vehicles (people in the car).

    also, there is a feeling that the state law was intended for vehicle safety, not idling, so having a local ordinance will be a safeguard in case legislators change the statute. the law is the law, regardless of intentions, and state Rep. Pete Jorgensen of Jackson has said it should be enforced.

  11. Suzy March 18, 2010 7:51 am

    Sorry I appear so dumb, ignorant, and small minded.

    You said, “$ $ $ where is the prioritys is the question? However this will make more money so….” First of all, it’s kind of hard to understand this vague sentence that has misspellings, so you can understand why your comment might be hard to interpret. However, I will not call you names, and in fact, you might be a very smart person who just can’t spell or punctuate very well. So, I’m sorry I misinterpreted your comment.

    Perhaps we could converse without name calling? I don’t know you and won’t judge you based on your comment if you can do the same for me. I have plenty of friends I don’t agree with (or who can’t spell), and I don’t call them names, so maybe we could agree to this.

    You said, “If you would read more then (sic) mine you wouldn’t look so ignorant.” Do you mean if I would read more comments THAN yours, I wouldn’t look so ignorant?” I’m just trying to get some clarification here.

    Thank you for taking time to set me straight. Who is the “principal,” you’re speaking of? Raising “tax’s,” what? Who are the “other peoples,” I might confuse your post with? (You can see why I might be confused!) Jeez, i must look dumb…

    I’m sorry if I confused you with Gimpy. I didn’t mean to. I see that you didn’t say that about Willie and I’m sorry! I see what you mean about raising money for sidewalks. (I do agree that sidewalks are needed in this town!)

    So, let’s move forward. How do you propose we change the culture we live and grow up in? How can we educate people, and reach them, while they’re sitting, idling in their cars? If we don’t start locally, how can we start a movement that reaches global and national levels? What are your ideas on this?

  12. boat1retired March 19, 2010 10:12 am

    I see no reason for an ordinance that realistically can’t be enforced. The idea is commendable but not enforceable. By the way – I do not idle my car except on very cold mornings – when needed.
    The question I think all should be asking is: Why is the town council supporting a no idling law, yet can’t support a START bus barn that would prevent buses from idling overnight!

  13. PC March 22, 2010 10:28 am

    The proposed ordinance would actually allow unattended vehicle idling to be more easily enforced. Current WY statute treats this offense as a moving violation which requires the vehicle owner to be ticketed. Chief Smith indicated that drafting the ordinance to allow Community Safety Officers to ticket a vehicle rather than a person will make this much less onerous to enforce. Setting specific time limits and exceptions to attended idling will serve to further clarify the enforcement.

    While I absolutely support the new START facility, it’s a multi-million dollar project. Meanwhile, aside from staff hours to draft it, this ordinance is essentially a low/no-cost opportunity for the Town to reduce emissions and improve vehicle efficiency.

    What’s the downside?

  14. boat1retired March 24, 2010 11:28 am

    Will there be exemptions to the ordinance – for instance START busses, police cars, fire apparatus? Where do you draw the line? Who gets to decide what is accepted idling?

  15. skip March 25, 2010 8:33 am

    Idling a car is never necessary, even on a cold morning. All it does is waste gas.

  16. Skid March 27, 2010 5:40 am

    Driving a car is never necessary, all it does is use gas ? Perhaps we should ban automobiles within city limits ? Cars kill more people every year than anything else. If Jackson is really concerned with “public health” issues, cars & unhealthy food should be illegal.

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