LONGMONT, Colo. -- You won’t have to attend an etiquette class the next time you visit a city building in Longmont. But you will have to mind your manners.
The city began enforcing a new set of behavior standards last month.
Longmont leaders took action after residents complained they would never come back to city buildings because of what they saw inside, including drug use, indecent exposure and sexual activity.
“I don’t think there’s a place for that in the library. You bring your children here, sometimes your grandchildren,” said a resident and frequent library visitor who didn’t want to give her name.
She said just outside the library’s front doors, by the book return box, she witnessed a sexual sideshow.
“I was just walking out just like when I met you. I saw stuff going on over here and got in my car and locked the doors as fast as I could,” she said.
That bad behavior is now in the crosshairs of Longmont leaders -- and posted inside city buildings.
“We are aiming to make all of our facilities safe, welcoming and inviting to anyone who comes to them,” Longmont assistant city manager Shawn Lewis said.
Visitors to any city building can forget about possessing drugs or weapons, smoking, fighting, sexual or simulated sexual acts, urinating, defecating, theft and vandalism, among other infractions.
And the penalty if they ignore the standards?
“We can go through a process of suspending an individual from visiting our facilities. That’s usually from a 30- to a 60-day period,” Lewis said.
And some lesser evils are also included such as talking too loudly, blasting music or sleeping can get you the boot for up to seven days after a warning.
“I think it’s ridiculous. It’s getting strict like that,” homeless woman Jin said.
She said public areas are the only places she and her cousins can express themselves.
“In public, we should be able to do what we want in the public. We all pay for the public in some way, somehow,” she said.
But the city said in these public spaces, basic civil conduct is only fair.
“If we want to make a welcoming environment, we have to have behavior that makes it safe inviting for everyone,” Lewis said.
And for at least one visitor, banning bad behavior feels good.
“I like appropriate behavior when I go places,” the unidentified visitor to the library said.
If a violator comes back before their suspension is over, the city can ticket them for trespassing.
If they commit a second violation within a year, they can be banned for a year, or six months for the lesser behaviors.
Violators can appeal the suspensions.