Bonners Ferry Ordinance 593, prohibiting public urination and defecation in the City of Bonners Ferry, caught the attention of television station KTVB, Boise, but they got the story wrong.

"Like most Idaho counties, nearly all public restrooms have been closed amid the coronavirus pandemic," they wrote. "Even counties with no confirmed cases, such as Boundary County in Northern Idaho, have implemented preventative measures to keep residents safe.

"A recent string of calls were made to Bonners Ferry Police reporting that residents were relieving themselves in public spaces. The calls became so frequent that Bonners Ferry City Council was forced to pass a city-wide ordinance making it a misdemeanor to use the restroom on or in view of public property.

"Bonners Ferry city attorney Andrakay Pluid said most of the incidents were intentional, almost like a punishment for the city closing public restrooms."

Um, not quite, Pluid said.

"The ordinance had nothing to do with COVID-19 or closing the public restrooms," she said. "We've had one case of public defecation, a person captured on security camera going on the Columbia Bank lawn, but too far away and at the wrong angle to be able to determine identity."

And that case wasn't the impetus for the ordinance, either.

"Most of the complaints are due to one person who has been called in several times over the past couple of months for urinating on a neighbor's sidewalk with whom he's having a dispute. This seems to be his way of expressing his anger."

Now, I know what you're thinking, "but Mike, isn't that the way everyone expresses their deep-seated discontent?"

No, not in polite society, as apparently assumed in the halls of the legislature as a self-evident truth. There is nothing in Idaho Code precluding a person from peeing, or worse, on private property in piques of perversity.

"There are statutes addressing indecent exposure, but that didn't specifically fit this situation," Pluid said. "Because of that, the city had to enact its own ordinance to be able to address and hopefully resolve this situation."


Mike Weland has been a journalist since serving as battalion Hometown News specialist in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division beginning in 1979. He is publisher, editor and reporter at KootenaiValleyTimes.com, which he launched in March, 2018.

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