Controversial lock box ordinance on Cedar Falls City Council agenda

2011-06-12T07:00:00Z 2011-06-13T20:20:18Z Controversial lock box ordinance on Cedar Falls City Council agendaBy JON ERICSON, jonathan.ericson@wcfcourier.com Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Monday marks the last chance for opponents of an ordinance requiring key lock boxes outside businesses and some apartment buildings.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the third and final reading of an ordinance adopting the 2009 International Fire Code. Part of that code specifies the fire chief can require lock boxes for emergency access to keys to buildings.

The Cedar Falls ordinance would require lock boxes be installed on commercial buildings and apartment buildings with three or more separate units. Since 2004 the city has required the boxes for commercial buildings with alarm systems and apartment buildings with six or more units.

Opponents of the ordinance have mounted a spirited opposition to its adoption. They have established a website, circulated a petition and produced a video to fight against the ordinance. Those opponents claim the lock box requirement is a potential security issue and an expensive, unfair requirement for businesses.

Supporters say it can save time and property by providing firefighters easy access when an alarm sounds or a fire breaks out.

The first two considerations of the ordinance resulted in 6-1 votes in favor of the ordinance. Nick Taiber was the only council member to vote against it each time.

The City Council meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall, Second and Clay streets.

Copyright 2015 Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. Stana
    Report Abuse
    Stana - June 17, 2011 5:44 pm
    I was told by a E'dale business owner that if the boxes would have went thru there the police or firemen could go into the buliding on " suspiction" Suspicion of what? This business has two really big pictre windows so that is not an issuee of not being able to see in if there is a fire or something of that nature. We are becoming a police state....
  2. Tharpie
    Report Abuse
    Tharpie - June 13, 2011 3:27 pm
    Since the city government is forcibly removing control and consent over access to the places of business, this is a clear violation of the 4th Amendment, which protects citizens against illegal and unreasonable search and seizure.

    Halting business in protest is an option if the citizens feel strongly enough about it. ...Or are you going to force them in to labor as well? Why should citizens contribute to a local economy that oppresses them and strips them of the liberties guaranteed to them by the Constitution? Of course, it would take a special measure of courage for such an action since it would also impact the business owners and employees themselves, financially, but if the city counsel chooses to usurp the authority of the people in such a way, these citizens are well within their rights to refuse to contribute to the perpetuation of a tyrannical entity of a city government.

    General acceptance of an infringement upon civil liberties does not change the fact that it is still an infringement, and if this ordinance is passed tonight, the city should be sued immediately. There are a good number of Constitutional law firms that can provide representation, and I encourage these people to pursue this legally. I will most definitely donate to help pay any legal fees and I am certain enough could be raised to support a constitutional challenge to this egregious overstep.
  3. JustHearSay
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    JustHearSay - June 13, 2011 2:02 am
    @SkilledLabor
    This is a violation of the 4th Amendment Rights of people to be secure in their homes. The government does not have the right to force you to make your property accessible to them or anybody else. I am not a property owner but I would not like to allow the government free access to my home or apartment that I rent. It should be voluntary. You don't know who will have access to those keys. I have lived in places where I couldn't trust the manager not to enter without my knowledge or consent, why would I want total strangers to have access to my key?
  4. noboxforcf
    Report Abuse
    noboxforcf - June 12, 2011 11:52 pm
    This violates the 4th amendment. The cedar falls city council could make this easy on everyone and make it voluntary. I fail to understand why they are so hell bent on making this mandatory. If a property owner doesn't feel comfortable with this they should not force it. These boxes are not safe. They do not make it easier for fireman to stop a fire. So where is the common sense here? I think its funny that Evansdale has a leg up on cedar falls now.
  5. skilledlabor
    Report Abuse
    skilledlabor - June 12, 2011 11:54 am
    Tharpie said: "The citizens of the city should sue if this ordinance is enacted. This is clearly unconstitutional and a violation of their civil liberties. "

    No it is not.

    "Additionally, if this law is enacted. Citizens may halt business activities in protest.

    No they will not.

    These have been used for years by many, many towns and cities including Cedar Falls. This is a cost issue. Income property owners don't care enough about their renter's safety to pay for and properly install these boxes, so they are spearheading an effort to stop them.

    As an income property owner, I think these are a GREAT idea, one that I can afford and one that renters cannot afford NOT to have.
  6. Ken
    Report Abuse
    Ken - June 12, 2011 11:04 am
    Tharpie...this isn't against the constitution. Your proposal of halting business activity is nonsensical. Gee, do you really think it would be difficult on families? So, to carry your argument further, which element of the constitution would be violated by enacting the ordinance? What case law are you using to base your opinion? When items such as this become accepted across the nation, its difficult to argue its illegal. Again, you are proposing damaging the local economy to prevent the use of a Knox Bos system? I bet you voted for Walt Rogers and Terry "I'm really old and old fashioned" Brandstadt.
  7. cfmama
    Report Abuse
    cfmama - June 12, 2011 10:19 am
    Which act of the constitution does it violate?
  8. Tharpie
    Report Abuse
    Tharpie - June 12, 2011 9:25 am
    The citizens of the city should sue if this ordinance is enacted. This is clearly unconstitutional and a violation of their civil liberties. Call the American Center for Law and Justice or the American Constitution Society for legal help. Additionally, if this law is enacted. Citizens may halt business activities in protest. This would be difficult on families, but it would also damage the local economy drawing attention to this invasion and disregard for liberty and force the city counsel to address it.
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