Mandeville Mayor Donald Villere decried what he called a Gestapo measure and Councilwoman Carla Buchholz lamented the heavy arm of government, but her colleague Ernest Burguières said his constituents are tired of people who fail to clean up after their dogs on the town’s lakefront.
His solution was to amend the city’s health and sanitation ordinance to broaden the definition of “prohibited deposits’’ on public or private property. Doing so would make it illegal not to pick up after a dog and would subject violators to a fine.
But the so-called “poop ordinance” got little support at Thursday’s council meeting, generating sometimes heated debate before the council rejected it.
Buchholz argued that educating the public to create a change in behavior is a better approach. She pointed to stations that the group Keep Mandeville Beautiful put in place on the lakefront using grant money. They include trash cans and bags for picking up after dogs.
Buchholz said most people do use the stations, and those who don’t aren’t going to be influenced by an ordinance.
If that’s the case, Burguières retorted, the city should repeal the law against litter.
Buchholz said the amount of litter found during citywide cleanups has visibly decreased, although Police Chief Rick Richard acknowledged that his officers write perhaps three tickets a year for littering.
Burguières said the effectiveness of his proposed law could be determined the same way — by visually determining whether the amount of fecal matter decreases.
But opponents insisted that a prohibition on animal deposits would be unenforceable. Villere called it a waste of time for police and the court system.
Burguières pointed to similar measures in New Orleans and New York.
“Are we New York or New Orleans? No, we are not,’’ Buchholz said.
The supposed difficulty of enforcing the law took up most of the debate.
Richard said his officers would not be looking for “dogs pooping on the lakefront.’’ At one point, Burguières suggested having volunteers patrol for violators.
Barrett McGuire, who lives on the lakefront, said he hasn’t seen a problem with fecal matter. “I haven’t stepped in it yet,’’ he joked.
Passing a law that can’t be enforced isn’t a good idea, he said. “Pretty soon, you’ll have a pretty bloated law book, and that’s not good for this small community,’’ he said.
Councilman Clay Madden said he always picks up after his dog, in part because he knows people in the small town recognize him and would think badly of him if he didn’t.
“My theory is people who don’t pick up don’t live on the lakefront or in Mandeville,’’ he said.
The council voted 4-1 to kill the measure.
Follow Sara Pagones on Twitter, @spagonesadvocat.