The other day, alert — and irate — “06880” reader Trish Lawrence wrote:
It’s spring — and the door-to-door solicitors are back.
At 8:30 last night, my door bell rang. I let the young woman know I wasn’t interested in buying anything. But I had to hear her whole spiel.
She claimed that because I didn’t have a sign up, she had the right to knock on my door from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The police concurred that when a permit is given to a group, those are the hours. I called Town Hall, and was told that Westporters voted yes to this solicitation law several years ago.
Last summer, a fellow wanted to use my phone because he was afraid the van had left without him.
I told another very pushy — no, downright surly — young woman that I was going to call the police if she didn’t leave. Her retort? “No cop is gonna tell me I can’t do my job.”
Several years ago I did donate some money to a young man. He had kicked drugs and, being a felon, found it nearly impossible to land a job. So he was trying the door-to-door thing.
I know these people need help, but I don’t think going door to door is the answer.
The police say the answer is a sign. In my neighborhood, tons of little kids stop by to pet our dogs and cats. Now I have to be the nasty old lady who puts up a “No Trespassing” sign? That’s not me.
Perhaps folks who voted yes live in houses with gates and security cameras. I grew up here, and I can’t imagine anyone voting for this.
My husband was home last night. If he was away on business, I would not have felt safe.
The next day, Trish followed up:
I just booted another guy off my stoop — and this time my husband is away.
The police said there is nothing they can do, and admitted they don’t have the time to vet all the people who supply for solicitation licenses.
Do people realize that once a permit is given, groups fill their vans with a dozen people and drop them off in neighborhoods like mine, where homes are close together?
Yesterday, Trish wrote again:
I did some homework. Door-to-door solicitation falls under the 1st Amendment. Grievances similar to mine have reached the Supreme Court. The 1st Amendment wins every time.
Westport changed the hours of solicitation in April to 9 a.m to 6 p.m. The police department is not aware of this, and Town Hall told me that they can only suggest these hours.
The only answer is to put up a sign. If the solicitor chooses to dismiss it you have to ask for their permit, and take down the info to show the police. I’ll put the sign up, but no way am I going to confront these people for permit info.