Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
What's the point of passing a law that won't be enforced? The Houston City Council seems particularly prone to cracking down on high-profile problems without thinking through whether new ordinances represent a worthwhile -- or realistic -- expenditure of law enforcement time.
Last year, the council approved, amidst much fanfare, an ordinance banning pocket bikes from city streets. Such riding was already illegal under Texas law, but Houston decided to make its own policy clear. Since then, however, police haven't issued a single citation.
The city has also banned parking on an esplanade and restricted people's ability to park and sell their cars along busy roadways. Neither of these new ordinances has resulted in a ticket, either.
"The council's still going strong," the Houston Chronicle reports. "It is considering an earlier juvenile curfew, tougher smoking rules and a ban on homeowners parking in their yards. Meanwhile, the city's health department has a single, part-time smoking inspector. And police are struggling with an officer shortage and an increase in violent crime."
"We spend so much time on all these ordinances, and they are just sitting on the books," Councilman M.J. Khan told the paper. "What's the point?"
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.