Proposal would create county citation for malls that block bus access

Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Patricia Jursik announced that she has introduced an ordinance that would require shopping malls to provide full bus access to their main entrances.

The ordinance would create a disorderly conduct citation for failure to provide full bus access to shopping mall entrances. The resolution states that the disorderly conduct would include interfering with any Milwaukee County transit bus, including pickup or discharge of passengers, on any roadway or parking lot that is held out for use of the general public for vehicular travel or on any roadway or parking lot made available to delivery vehicles of 20,000 lbs. gross weight.

Jursik said she worked with the Milwaukee County corporation counsel’s office to craft the ordinance and that the county has the authority to create such an ordinance.

The ordinance is in response to the decision by Southridge Mall’s owner, Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, in November to move the public bus stop at the Greendale mall 1,000 feet away from its entrances.

“If we allow Southridge to get away with this blatant discrimination against bus riders – many of whom are elderly or disabled – how can we be sure that other malls won’t follow suit?” Jursik said. “We need to ensure that our bus riders have equal access not only to Southridge, but to all malls and public facilities in Milwaukee County. This resolution will address the injustice created by mall owners like Simon Properties and create penalties for discriminating against bus riders by forcing them to use a bus stop far from the main entrance.”

Mary Mokwa, area general manager for Simon Property Group, questions whether the proposed ordinance could be enforced and said the County Board should focus its efforts elsewhere.

“We appreciate the continuing interest in helping Southridge remain a strong and vibrant part of the Milwaukee County economy,” she said. “We would respectfully suggest that the County Board focus its attention on helping to create jobs and maintain a strong economy rather than offering policies that conflict with the actions of other local authorities and could not be legally enforced. Southridge remains committed to providing safe and convenient access to bus service, and we are open to considering alternative ideas that address the real issue, which is combating the unsafe conditions created by having at least 150 buses drive through the parking lots on a daily basis.”

But Jursik said the ordinance is a critical step to address “outrageous discrimination against the elderly and disabled” that use public transit.

“Everyone should have equal access to our shopping centers and other public facilities,” she said. “Huge delivery trucks use the mall parking lot. Why not buses? It is shameful that we have come to this point, but Southridge management has done nothing but stonewall on this issue while elderly and disabled people trudge through a hazardous parking lot. Something has to be done to get Southridge management’s attention, and this resolution will make their decision a more costly one until they restore the bus stop near the mall entrance.”

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