Forest Park adopts ‘saggy pants’ ordinance

The Forest Park City Council has joined a handful of cities in adopting a "saggy pants" ordinance, but took it a step further to include droopy skirts.

City Manager John Parker said the new ordinance, approved Monday night, is not a money-raising measure for Forest Park.

"We're not interested in the money," said Parker. "We want them to pull their pants up."

Violation of the ordinance will result in the issuance of a citation, but no arrest or jail time. Forest Park allows for fines of up to $1,000 for violation of city ordinances.

Mayor Pro Tem Sparkle Adams wondered what will happen to a person who repeatedly violates the ordinance, if there is no chance of going to jail. "What do we do? Keep fining and fining them?" she asked.

City Attorney Robert Mack said a violator, who fails to pay the fine, can be subject to contempt of court charges, which could include a jail stay.

The ordinance specifies that it is unlawful to appear in a public place in the city wearing pants or skirts "more than 3 inches below the top of the hips, exposing the skin or undergarments." The ordinance defines the top of the hips as the "crest of the ilium."

Councilwoman Linda Lord said the ordinance covers the wardrobe of both genders.

"I guess we're including the women to be fair," said Lord. "We're making sure to hit all the different people."

Councilwoman Maudie McCord voted for the measure, but had reservations. "I hope this doesn't come back to us like the breast-feeding thing did," said McCord.

Last year, the council voted to ban breast-feeding in public, for children who have reached a certain age. After a public outcry, councilmembers amended the ordinance to remove the age restriction.

Parker said the saggy pants ordinance was submitted for approval by request. In August, Forest Park resident, Carl Evans, asked the city to consider banning that style of dress.

"The vote on this could go either way," said Parker before the vote. "I don't have a dog in this fight."

Other Georgia municipalities, including Jonesboro, Hampton, Dublin, Macon and Fayettevillle, have adopted similar ordinances, said Parker.

In other Council business:

• The council appropriated $44,200 to cover telephone and Internet costs for several city departments. Parker said the funds are needed to cover the upgrade of communications lines to fiber optic cable.

• The council appropriated $103,410 to cover vehicle insurance costs, and property and liability insurance costs for several city departments. Parker said the money is needed because of increased rates, and the addition of city vehicles and property.

• Dennis Williams, general manager of the Crazy Horse Saloon and Pink Pony South, told councilmembers that, despite the businesses being closed, "We're not going away." The former strip clubs closed their doors Jan. 16, after the city changed the ordinance governing adult entertainment.

"January 17 was a very emotional day," said Williams. "Another 26 people are unemployed. They are hardworking people, who may not be palatable to many of you, but they were working, supporting families, paying bills."

Williams said that, in addition to five outstanding lawsuits pending against the city by the owner of the clubs, a federal complaint is also in the works.

"By my calculations, we have a $2.65 million claim against the city," said Williams. "Do you really want to continue shutting our doors and burdening the taxpayers with these claims? We're not going away."

A hearing officer determined last year that the clubs violated city ordinances. Once those violations were affirmed, the city was able to use the allegations to deny business licenses for the establishments.

• Evans asked councilmembers to formally recognize the Babb Middle School championship dance teams. Evans said the Dance Dogs and Pantherettes competed Saturday at McIntosh High School in Peachtree City. Both teams took home top honors.

"The coach, Melissa Colon, represented us well at the competition, the teams took first-and-second places, and I'd love to see them recognized for that," said Evans.