Charter: Article XVII

Section 17.1. Granting of franchises

All public utility franchises and all renewals, extensions and amendments thereof shall be granted only by ordinance. No such ordinance shall be adopted within less than thirty days after application therefor has been filed with the council, nor until a full public hearing has been held thereon. No such ordinance shall become effective until it has been submitted to the electors and has been approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon.

No ordinance shall be submitted at an election less than sixty days after the grantee named therein has filed its unconditional acceptance of such franchise, and it shall not be submitted to a special election unless the expense of holding the election, as determined by the council, shall have been paid into the city treasury by the grantee. No exclusive franchises shall ever be granted, and no franchise shall be granted for a longer term than 20 years. No such franchise shall be transferable directly or indirectly, except with the approval of the council expressed by ordinance after a full public hearing.

Section 17.2. Right of regulation

All public utility franchises, whether it be so provided in the ordinance or not, shall be subject to the right of the council to:

  1. Repeal the same for misuse or non use, or for failure to comply therewith.
  2. Require proper and adequate extension of plant and service and the maintenance thereof at the highest practicable standards of efficiency.
  3. Establish reasonable standards of service and quality of products, and prevent unjust discrimination in service of rates.
  4. Make an independent audit and examination of accounts at any time, and require reports annually.
  5. Require continuous and uninterrupted service to the public in accordance with the terms of the franchise throughout the entire period thereof.
  6. Control and regulate the use of the City streets, alleys, bridges, and public places, and the space above and beneath them.
  7. Regulate rates, fares and charges and make readjustments thereof from time to time if the same are not regulated by the state.
  8. Impose such other regulations from time to time as it may determine to be conducive to the safety, welfare and accommodation of the public.

Section 17.3. Purchases; condemnation

The City shall have the right to acquire by condemnation or otherwise the property of any public utility in accordance with the general laws of the state.

Section 17.4. Revocable permits

Temporary permits for the operation of public utilities, or like permits for a period not to exceed two years but subject to being renewed for a period not to exceed one year and subject to amendment, alteration, or revocation at any time at the will of the council may be granted only by ordinance on such terms and conditions as the council shall determine; provided that such permits shall in no event be construed to be franchises, or extensions or amendments of franchises.

Section 17.5. Operation beyond franchise period

Any operation of a public utility by a franchise holder, with the tacit permission of the City, beyond the period for which the franchise was granted, shall under no circumstances be construed as a renewal or extension of such franchise. Any such operation shall at most be regarded as a mere temporary permit, subject, like other permits, to amendment, alteration, or revocation at any time at the will of the council.

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