Juneau Cracks Down on Aggressive “Hawking”

Downtown Juneau. (Creative Commons Photo By Kyle Rush)
Downtown Juneau. (Creative Commons Photo By Kyle Rush)

 

The Juneau Assembly has approved new enforcement measures designed to cut down on “hawking” — an aggressive form of commercial sidewalk solicitation also called “barking.”

Juneau police say the practice is on the rise, especially during the summer tourist season.

Lt. Kris Sell says downtown patrol officers will be working with local businesses this year to identify and stop hawking.

“Last year was when we saw what appeared to be our first professional barker, brought in from out of town — very good and very aggressive — and he was cited twice,” Sell told the Juneau Assembly. “And (he) did comment that it’s just a cost of doing business as long as he didn’t have to go to court.”

The previous penalty for hawking was a flat $150 fine no matter how many times a person was cited. The updated punishment includes a $150 fine for a first offense; a $300 fine for a second offense in a two-year period; and a mandatory court appearance for a third offense in two years.

Sell says JPD did one undercover sting targeting barkers last year, and she promised more this summer.

Kristy Chhabria is a South Franklin Street store owner, who says hawking is common in other tourist destinations. But she says the visitors who come to Alaska are looking for a different experience.

“Not to toot our own horn, but because we don’t do the barking and the hawking, it’s actually helped us,” Chhabria said. “Customers will come back after walking down and say, ‘We just love you. You guys aren’t out there harassing us.’”

The Assembly unanimously approved the new more strict hawking enforcement measures at its meeting last night. Some Assembly members commented that they wished the penalties could be even stronger.