Altoona measure worthwhile

Whether in Altoona or any other municipality, ordinances are in place for good reasons. Among them are to maintain order, respond to existing problems or address anticipated issues.

Municipalities with leaders who pay attention to the issues and concerns of today but also look routinely beyond those immediate matters understand that the “live like you want to live” attitude isn’t a panacea.

For many communities, it’s the basis for nagging, difficult-to-solve problems and the seed for new ones.

While no municipality should strive to imprison its residents with unnecessary, overbearing rules, well-thought-out laws are the foundation for maintaining order and for protecting best interests, not only for the community, but also for its residents.

Well-written ordinances address issues but are not excessive in doing so.

Even with that said, it’s reasonable to believe that some Altoona residents might deem intrusive a proposed city council ordinance that would target people who contemptuously — and over an extended period of time — disregard the city’s authority over municipal concerns.

Those who embrace such an opinion need to rethink it, not only for the benefit of our city but also themselves.

If passed, the proposed ordinance not only would streamline the process for dealing with individuals persisting in actions detrimental to the city and their fellow residents, but also discourage others from imitating them in the same or other ways.

As explained in an article in the July 12 Mirror, the proposed ordinance would allow the city to file an “action in equity” in the county Court of Common Pleas rather than seek resolution before a magisterial district judge; a district judge has more limited options for bringing about resolution of a problem.

The “action in equity” is a complaint asking the court for an injunction to prevent — or an order to require a desired action — to enable the city to obtain compliance by a violator.

Altoona has the power under state law to pursue an ordinance such as the one being considered because of the city having opted for home rule, approved by voters in 2014.

The power was not available under the commonwealth’s Third Class City Code, under which the city had operated prior to approval of home rule.

Larry Clapper, city solicitor, described the proposed ordinance as “another arrow in the quiver” geared toward the city’s betterment. That seems like an apt description.

Altoona always has had a reputation for trying to be reasonable — perhaps too reasonable — with individuals who are in violation of ordinances not related to criminal actions. Still, like virtually every other municipality, this community has people who try to test governmental patience and resist compliance in ways they see as benefiting them.

But most times, that resistance negatively impacts neighbors, a neighborhood or the city as a whole.

At the very least, it damages others’ perceptions of the municipality’s pride and values.

Altoona needs a mechanism consistent with the times “for addressing persistent ordinance or city code violations” and the proposed measure aimed at cracking down on scofflaws seems like a good, reasonable weapon that right-thinking residents should embrace rather than be fearful.

“Living like you want to live” is great, as long as no one is being hurt in the process.

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