by Steve Sarviel
Last night, the City of Poway passed a far (over)reaching “temporary” ordinance which in effect makes it illegal for most Poway residents to play with a toy helicopter or drone in the safety of their own driveway or back yard AT ANY TIME. By the city attorney’s own admission, they didn’t spend adequate time drafting the ordinance and said it would be difficult to enforce. He also admitted it was crafted to avoid conflicting with FAA jurisdiction over the use of drones.
Mayor Steve Vaus attempted to describe a “discretionary” enforcement of the ordinance, while Council Member Jim Cunningham ensured more strict enforcement. There was a clear conflicting message. Will it be up to the law enforcement officer on patrol to interpret a muddy directive and poorly written ordinance?
ANY law or ordinance which needs to be “selectively” enforced is a bad law in need of repeal and optional replacement.
While the apparent intent of this initiative was to “protect” first responders, specifically fire fighters in the upcoming peak fire danger season, the ordinance does not address just this, but rather puts hobbyists, aviation enthusiasts and even young children at odds with the law. The city attorney told the council prior to their hasty 4-1 vote for this poorly enacted ordinance there were already laws against interfering with first responders and those were also difficult to enforce.
Poway has embarked on a path of restricting the freedom of its law abiding citizens under the guise of “safety,” for a perceived solution to which there may not even be a problem. If there is, laws already exist to deal with it. Law abiding parents are now left to explain to their children, “no, it’s against the law to play with your toy (as they learn valuable lessons),” or to teach their children, “it’s OK to only follow some laws because the mayor says ‘we will use discretion when enforcing the law.’”
Simply put, this was a very bad step in the direction of regulating away the freedom of Poway residents. This is a dangerous path for what has been a great city, which the current mayor campaigned on making an even better. Enacting laws in haste which are by their own admission not good, is not the way to accomplish this. Impinging on the freedom of the city’s residents with laws that may not actually solve a problem which even exists is not a good way to accomplish this. Forcing parents to either encourage their children to violate the law or be selective in which ones should be obeyed is not the way to make a good city even better.
Our city council and mayor can do MUCH better than frivolously enacting poorly written and overreaching ordinances.
Sarviel is a concerned citizen and informed voter of Poway