It's a cleaner, gentler Annapolis, a brave new world where trash cans must be hidden and walking around with an open beer bottle is a strict no-no.
To protect the peaceful ambience of Maryland's capital,the City Council adopted four nuisance ordinances Monday night, including regulations restricting parking recreational vehicles and carrying open alcoholic beverages on the street.
A measure that provoked an outburst of discussion and laughter targets people who mistake flower boxes and alleys for toilets.
"There is a very serious public urination problem that I have witnessed with my own two eyes while I have been walking around town at night," said Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins. "It just has to stop."
Alderman JohnHammond, the Ward 1 Republican who introduced the ordinance, said hewas picking up dinner downtown on a recent night when he noticed a man tinkling in a trash can. Streets near the City Dock often reek like "a public sewer," Hammond said.
The measure makes public urination a misdemeanor, punishable by a $100 fine. Hammond, whose ward includes the downtown restaurant district, said he hopes "something with teeth in it" will reduce the problem.
Responding to jokes by several council members, who pointed out that men were the most common offenders, the city's public works director drew a mock sign. Amid roarsof laughter, John E. C. Patmore handed Alderwoman Ruth Gray, R-Ward 4, a "man-buster" sign -- with a red line drawn through a male figure.
An accompanying ordinance bans carrying open alcoholic beverage containers on city streets and in parks.
Public drinking has long been illegal in the city. But under the new ordinance, if a police officer spots somebody strolling down the street with an open beer or apint of tequila with its seal broken, the person could face a fine or a jail sentence of up to 90 days.
Alderman Samuel Gilmer, D-Ward3, worried that the measure, as proposed, was too severe because every tourist carrying a can of beer off a boat could be fined.
The council amended the original proposal to include only open containers and approved it, 6-2, with Gilmer and Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, opposing it.
A third measure passed by the council prohibits tour buses, trucks and recreational vehicles from parking all day in front of homes and businesses.
The fourth one requires that residents of the historic district hide their garbage cans, or store them "in such a way as to not be visible from a public way."
Although the mayor and Alderman Wayne Turner, R-Ward 6, suggested passing the ordinance citywide, the council limited it to the historic area, where residents have complained about trash cans cluttering the streets.
Ironically, on a night when the council was adopting more strict rules, a small group pressed again for marijuana law reform.
A man suffering from cancer and two members of the Maryland Marijuana Movement asked the council to endorse legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
The coalition, founded by an Anne Arundel Community College student, is petitioning councils across the state to urge the General Assembly to approve adding marijuana to the list of available medicines.