New Mendota Heights City Code Eliminates Many Door-to-Door Activities
Rules restrict what types of business can show up on your doorstep.
Mendota Heights residents may have fewer strangers ringing their doorbells, thanks to new language on an old ordinance regarding peddlers, canvassers and transient merchants.
Changes to the city code were approved by the city council at their July 5 meeting. The council discussed and improved the law’s language over several previous meetings.
The final version replaces the previous 1987 ordinance. The new language restricts door-to-door solicitors to only those protected by the U.S. Constitution and a handful of others who must register with the city before knocking on doors. By doing so, the language virtually eliminates the need for licensing.
Girl Scouts selling cookies, churches selling raffle tickets and other charitable solicitations are still allowed and do not require registration. Newspaper and grocery delivery and related activities will also not be affected.
Residents shouldn’t expect a complete halt of agents at the door, however. Several kinds of solicitation agents are protected under the United States Constitution, including interstate commerce. Registered non-profits and political campaigning are also allowed.
“The simplest way is to be aware of the ordinance,” said Mendota Heights Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener when asked how to determine if a solicitor is allowed. “If you answer the door and it’s Councilman Vitelli running for office or your state senator, they are constitutionally protected. If they come to your door and it’s a manufacturing business from Wisconsin, it’s allowable as interstate commerce. Constitutionally protected is also someone talking about water research or clean air and handing out literature, educating you—that’s protected,” he explained.
Out-of-state solicitors must register and provide proof that they are engaging in interstate commerce.
“It eliminates nuisance,” said council member Liz Petschel. “It doesn’t stop kids from selling plants or Christmas wreaths. But what we aren’t going to have are people going door-to-door who are not from [Mendota Heights], who in some cases have known criminal histories.”
During the meeting, Aschenbrener said that he approved of the new ordinance and the required registration process. He also encouraged residents to continue vigilance when it comes to strangers on their doorsteps.
“If you ever feel uncomfortable with who comes to your door, just go inside and call 911. You don’t even need to say a word. An officer will show up,” Aschenbrener said.