Vicky Zemkoski looks out the window of her downtown Melbourne apartment where, almost every weekend, she is awakened to the sound of people urinating on the wall outside her window.
Melbourne, Florida (FL Today) -- Vicky Zemkoski put up with people urinating below her bedroom window for about a week after she moved into her downtown Melbourne apartment.
The next week, she bought the spotlight that she routinely shines on unsuspecting urinators who answer the urge outside instead of finding a bathroom.
"I potty trained my kids," said Zemkoski, who catches whiffs of stale urine when she walks to her downtown business, Name on Things Embroidery. "I would hope that adults could learn to do the same."
Well if mothers' lessons didn't do the trick, maybe a fine from Melbourne - anywhere from $100 on first violation to $500 for repeat offenders - will.
City leaders Tuesday took their first look at an ordinance that would make it illegal to take a pause for the cause in any public place or on residential property without the owners' permission. Defecating would also be a no-no.
The rule would apply to all areas of Melbourne, but is being considered now because of the boom in the city's downtown district. That increased popularity has brought issues that city police have been working with businesses to address.
Among them: a "significant increase" in public urination and defecation in alleys, alcoves and other downtown nooks and crannies, according to a police memo to city leaders.
"I do catch people 8 o'clock at night relieving themselves, knowing the place is opening," said Councilwoman Kathy Meehan, whose family owns a downtown business. "They just whiz."
Police spokesman Sgt. Sheridan Shelley said the department can't quantify how many more incidents of wayward waste there are because some complaints about calls of nature are labeled as suspicious person reports or disturbances.
Downtown merchants have long complained about finding unsavory surprises on their doorsteps when they arrive in the morning. But the fact heeding nature's call in public isn't already outlawed caused almost universal head-scratching.
"You mean you can do that now?" asked Dano LoPresti, who owns Petite Boutiques.
Yes, according City Attorney Paul Gougelman.
There's nothing in place now that bans simply going to the bathroom in plain view, Gougelman wrote in a memo to city leaders. The act would be illegal under a state law if a person did so in a "lewd or lascivious" manner.
The culprits are likely violating environmental laws, but that would require police to gather evidence and have it tested, a lengthy and costly proposition.
It also might violate the city's nudity laws, but that's only if a suspected offender exposes his or herself while doing so. But if body parts are kept out of sight, public urination is legal.
"A lot of times if you have someone maybe urinating next to a building, you are not going to be able to see any part of their body but you know what they are doing," Sheridan said. "This ordinance would be able to address that."
LoPresti - who said he has seen everything in his 30 years as downtown Melbourne business owner - said he doubts the new law, if approved, would reduce how often he sees people urinating outside.
"By the time you make a phone call to the police department, they're already gone," he said.
True, officers would have to view people relieving themselves before they could hand out tickets for what would be a non-criminal offense.
And Karen Harshaw, advertising manager for Jessup's of Melbourne, agrees there are higher priority issues for officers than making sure people make it to a stall.
But still, "I think it's good to have it on the books," she said.