MAPLEWOOD, MO - The ACLU and the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Opportunity Housing Council (EHOC) joined forces to share information about a controversial nuisance ordinance in Maplewood. The groups say the ordinance can result in a resident having their occupancy permit revoked if they call 911 more than twice during a 180-day period. The group shared the information with residents who met at the Salvation Army Fellowship Hall in Maplewood.
“That part of the ordinance should go,” said Maplewood resident Aaron Hatch as he left the meeting.
Maplewood City Officials said they cannot comment on the issue because of a pending lawsuit. The ACLU is suing to have the ordinance removed. The organization reports a domestic violence victim in Maplewood ended up in trouble after calling 911 4 times.
“Those 4 calls were the basis of ordinance enforcement the city started against her and she ended up being evicted from her home and not being able to live in Maplewood for 6 months,” said ACLU attorney Sandra Park. “Several domestic violence survivors have been barred from living in Maplewood as a result of calling 911.”
Kalila Jackson is an attorney with EHOC. She and Park led the discussion with residents.
“Nuisance ordinances have been shown time and time again to impact protected classes, people of color, women because of gender violence and also people with mental health disabilities,” she said.
Jackson and Park encouraged residents to get involved in their city government if they believe the ordinance gives the city too much authority.
“In the city of Maplewood these cases are done without going to our circuit court. These are heard by the director of public works or by the assistant director of public works neither of whom are trained legally,” said Jackson. “The municipal judge is not involved and the cases do not go through tenant-landlord court as they do if a landlord is told they had to evict a tenant.”