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December 1, 2011 at 3:49 PM

Downtown canvassers have to be nice

Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen says aggressive solicitors in downtown Seattle are having a negative effect on shoppers and visitors. Thursday he announced a Code of Conduct agreed upon by four major Seattle canvassing companies in cooperation with downtown business groups.

Under the new voluntary rules, solicitors can’t block traffic or pedestrians. They can’t walk backwards or trail a prospective donor. In fact, they must remain stationary or move no more than one step toward a pedestrian. And they must identify themselves as working for a canvassing agency, unless they are working directly for another organization such as a charity or non-profit.

Many organizations including the Red Cross, Children International and WashPIRG hire canvassing firms to solicit donations and sign up members. Rasmussen said the firms agreed to train their workers in the Code of Conduct regardless of the neighborhood in which they’re working.

Rasmussen said the issue arose when the Council was considering an aggressive panhandling ordinance last year that was ultimately vetoed by Mayor Mike McGinn. Some people testified that they had more problems with “those people with clipboards blocking the way or following me down the street,” Rasmussen said.

The Code of Conduct says that “should a pedestrian choose NOT to stop or be engaged, the pedestrian will be politely thanked and allowed to move on without interruption.”

The Downtown Seattle Association praised the agreement saying it would have a positive impact on pedestrians downtown as well as the causes advanced by the solicitors.

Comments | More in Government | Topics: canvassers, Mike McGinn, pedestrians

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