Soldotna Council postpones vote on school zone phone use

Jan 15, 2019

A decision on using fines to enforce good in-car video-screen practices among parents picking up kids at school has been postponed.

Action on an ordinance heard on Wednesday was put off at the request of the measure’s sponsor, Councilman Jordan Chilson.

There was no public left at the city council meeting when the time came for the scheduled public hearing, though a short-handed council did debate the utility of fining drivers.

Chilson said a new law now allows municipalities to regulate screen use in school zones.

“I’m sure all of you have seen the parent pickup line in front of Soldotna Elementary and Soldotna Montessori each day and spills out onto the road. And the issue that the principals are seeing there, is the use of parents' cell phones as they show up, get in line and looking down at the phone and looking back up as they pull forward and back down and back up," he said. "But, they’re not always looking up when they’re pulling forward. And they've had a lot of problems with parents getting in some near-accidents and potentially hitting kids.”

Councilman Tim Cashman, who was calling into the meeting, didn’t see the need, and thought current efforts were working.

“You know I spend a lot of my time right over there on Redoubt, and those they’ve put up with the bright neon “no cell phone” are more than sufficient to deal with this. We are in a new world, we are going to need to continue to educate parents, looking out for our kids and everything else," he said. "I think the signs are definitely addressing the issues much better than another ordinance.”

Without a clear consensus, Chilson asked for a postponement for when the council was again at full strength. Its next meeting is Jan. 23.