Members of the White City Council voted unanimously Monday evening to approve a new “urban camping” ordinance, which makes it unlawful for any individual to “camp in a public area, including streets, sidewalks, bridges and woods” within the municipality.
The ordinance also bans individuals in White from setting up tent camps, sleeping in public places or interfering with the “ingress or egress of any building, private property or public area.”
The ordinance defines a camp as any “tents, boxes, tarps or other temporary structures or objects providing shelter” and/or “sleeping in a single place, such as a bench, against a structure or tree or under bridges.”
Under the ordinance, offenders must first be given an oral or written warning.
“If the person fails to promptly comply with the warning, then that person may be issued a citation or arrested,” the ordinance states. “Only one warning shall be issued. If the person is a habitual offender, that person only needs one warning.”
Per the ordinance approved by council earlier this week, fines for offenses are capped at $100 per incident.
“Notwithstanding the issuance of a citation or arrest of a person violating this section, any personal property used to camp, in which a citation was [issued], or being stored, may be deemed abandoned by the City of White or the City of White Police and may be confiscated by them without prior warning,” the ordinance reads. “The City of White Police shall retain the property for three days to allow the owner to collect and store in a proper and lawful place. After three days have passed, the City of White Police shall discard the personal property.”
The council also approved a slate of ordinances at Monday’s meeting establishing regulations and protocols for occupational tax collection and alcohol sales.
The occupational tax ordinance imposes a regulatory fee on applicable businesses as well as allows the City to levy a tax on “businesses and practitioners of professions and occupations with one or more locations or offices within the corporate limits of the City or upon the applicable out-of-state businesses with no location or office in Georgia.”
That includes a non-prorated, non-refundable administrative fee set at $55 for all “occupation tax accounts for the initial start-up, renewal or reopening of those accounts.”
A litany of businesses — including cooperative marketing associations, insurance companies, depository financial institutions and facilities operated by a charitable trust — are exempt from the ordinance regulations and requirements.
“It is made the duty of the City Clerk and police department to see that the provisions of this part of the code relating to occupation taxes are observed, and to summon all violators of the same to appear before the municipal court,” the ordinance reads. “It is made the further duty of the City Clerk, members of the police department and their assistants to inspect all registrations issued by the City, as often as in their judgment it may seem necessary to determine whether the registration held is proper for the business sought to be transacted thereunder.”
Per City documents, the approved alcohol ordinance is “to alleviate future complications or confusion for the anticipated attempts for the constituents of the City of White to petition for a referendum vote to allow packaged alcohol sales within the City limits.”
If the City were to allow alcohol sales, the ordinance language states the regulations therein are intended “to protect and preserve the culture and economy of the city.”
The ordinance, as written, contains a blanket ban on the sale of “packaged distilled spirits” — defined as any alcoholic beverage containing more than 21 percent alcohol by volume — and stipulates that no elected or appointed official, employee or agent of the City may be an alcohol licensee “directly or indirectly” under the code.
“Any person desiring to sell alcoholic beverages in the city, whether for consumption on the premises or via retail package sale, shall apply for and obtain a license from the City prior to commencing operations,” the ordinance states. “Operating without a license shall be a violation of this code and shall be punishable.”
For City of White ordinance violations which aren’t also specified as violations under the State alcohol sales law, first-time offenders are subject to a six-month probation period while those who incur a second violation are subject to a seven-day license suspension and a one-year probation period. A third violation triggers an automatic license revocation.
The ordinance also enforces a $0.004166 per ounce excise tax on malt beverages sold by wholesale dealers in the city and a $0.22 per liter excise tax on wine and distilled spirits.
Furthermore, the ordinance requires potential wholesale dealers of malt beverages in White to file a report by the tenth day of each month to City officials, specifying “the exact quantities of malt beverages by size and type of container and the exact quantities of wine and distilled spirits, constituting a beginning and ending inventory for the month, sold within the incorporated City limits.”