Opposition organizes to beat key box ordinance

2011-06-06T07:00:00Z 2011-06-13T17:23:35Z Opposition organizes to beat key box ordinanceBy JON ERICSON, jonathan.ericson@wcfcourier.com Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Opponents of an expanded key box ordinance in Cedar Falls don't plan to go down without a fight.

A group of people who say the ordinance is a risk for invasion of citizens' privacy and an unnecessary cost for businesses are mounting a campaign to keep it out of the books.

Judd Saul developed a video based on footage from the May 23 City Council meeting and posted it to YouTube. He and others opposed to the ordinance are spreading the word to people they know and expect a big crowd at the June 13 council meeting to speak against the requirement of key boxes.

"If it does pass, we are going to file a lawsuit," Saul said. He believes it is unconstitutional.

The ordinance in question is adoption of the 2009 International Fire Code. As part of the code, the fire official can require installation of key boxes. In Cedar Falls, Fire Chief John Schilling determined the city should require the boxes for commercial buildings and apartment buildings with three or more units.

Cedar Falls had required them for commercial buildings and apartment buildings with six or more units since 2004.

The key boxes are installed on the exterior of a business. The property owner deposits keys needed for emergency access to the building inside. A master key kept at the fire department allows supervisors to access the keys.

Most boxes can be installed for between $250 and $500. Some models can send an alarm to the property owner when the box is opened.

The ordinance already has passed two of three readings required for approval. If the third reading is passed June 13, it becomes law. The council voted 6-1 in favor of the ordinance May 23, with Nick Taiber casting the only vote against it.

Saul said those opposing the ordinance plan to air an ad on Cedar Falls cable television this week and will be circulating a petition.

"We're pounding the pavement full force getting that petition started," Saul said.

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