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Proposed ordinances target taxi owners, homeless

LAWRENCEVILLE - New rules could be handed down for taxi owners and the homeless Tuesday, according to a proposal from Gwinnett County Police Chief Charles Walters.

Walters said two of three new ordinances the Board of Commissioners will consider during a 2 p.m. public hearing were devised as part of the county's quality of life initiative.

Officers have found that some of Gwinnett's unregistered taxi companies have been transporting drugs or prostitutes.

Plus, the so-called gypsy cabs sometimes have unlicensed drivers and no insurance, Walters said.

"There's no measure to make sure the vehicles are safe and make sure they are insured and permitted," Walters said. "It's really a question of safety."

A second proposal would prohibit "urban camping," which would keep homeless people from taking up residence in a county park or under bridges.

Although Gwinnett is known as an affluent area, there has been a rise in homelessness in the past several years, and Walters said the camping problem is becoming a bigger deal.

Behind a business off Jimmy Carter Boulevard, the police have encountered a "shantytown." Walters said the officers can force people to leave private property, but the problem has become more evident on public lands.

"This is a quality of life issue," Walters said. "It's not a huge problem yet, but this is a preventative measure."

In a third ordinance, the county could prohibit booting.

Police officers don't use the measure to incapacitate cars, but some companies use the devices on private property.

"It takes more government services to referee the fights," Walters said.