Santa Cruz, CA (populaton approx 55,000) has its own noxious Sit-Lie laws, the first to be passed in California in 1994, also used regularly and probably disproportionately against the homeless population.
9.50.011 LYING DOWN ON PUBLIC SIDEWALKS IN DESIGNATED CITY ZONES. No person shall lie down upon a public sidewalk or sidewalk curb in the following zone districts: C-C community commercial, C-N neighborhood commercial, C-B commercial beach, CBD central business district, and R-T tourist residential.
9.50.012 SITTING DOWN ON SIDEWALKS IN DESIGNATED CITY ZONES. In the C-C community commercial, C-N neighborhood commercial, C-B commercial beach, CBD central business district, and R-T tourist residential zoning districts, no person shall sit upon the following enumerated portions of a public sidewalk: (a) At any bus stop; (b) Within 14′ of any building. Where any portion of a building is recessed from the public sidewalk, the 14′ shall be measured from the point at which the building abuts the sidewalk; (c) Within 50′ of any ATM machine or cash disbursal machine, or any other outdoor machine or device which disburse or accepts coins or paper currency except parking meters and newspaper vending machines; (d) Within 14′ of any fence that abuts a public sidewalk; (e) Within 14′ of any drinking fountain, public telephone, public bench, public trash compactor, information or directory/map sign, sculpture or artwork displayed on public property, or vending cart; (f) Within `14′ of any street corner or intersection; (g) Within 14′ of any open air dining area or cafe extension; or (h) Within 14′ of any kiosk.
9.50.013 SITTING DOWN ON PUBLIC BENCHES IN DESIGNATED CITY ZONES. (a) In the C-C community commercial, C-N neighborhood commercial, C-B commercial beach, CBD central business district, and R-T tourist residential zoning districts, no person shall sit down upon or otherwise occupy a public bench or use a public bench to store property for more than a total of one hour during any given twelve-hour period. (b) No person shall be cited under this section unless he or she has first been notified by a police officer, public officer or downtown host that he or she is in violation of the prohibition in this section, and thereafter continues the violation.
9.50.014 EXEMPTIONS TO SECTIONS 9.50.010, 9.50.011, & 9.50.013. (a) Persons standing or sitting on the curb or portion of any sidewalk, street or public bench while attending or viewing any parade, festival, performance or similar event permitted under the provisions of this code; (b) Any conduct which is in conformity with the terms of any permit granted pursuant to this code; (c) Any conduct in public places that are privately owned where such conduct is in conformity with permission granted by the owner of said premises or by the person entitled to the possession of said premises; (d) Persons sitting or lying down due to a medical emergency; (e) Persons who, as the result of a disability, utilize a wheelchair or similar device to move about; (f) Persons who place chairs or stools on public sidewalks in conjunction with display devices or noncommercial uses permitted under Chapter 5.43.The Downtown Spokane Partnership championed 2 major ordinances for the past several years- 1- Anti-Panhandling and 2-NO sitting or lying down on Downtown sidewalks. Both these ordinances passed last Monday night with a 7-0 vote by City Council.
It is hard to be "thrilled" with the fact that businesses have been forced into a situation to "regulate" negative behavior and civility in our Downtown- but that is the reality. It was not something the DSP took lightly and we wrestled with how this was going to impact many of our homeless in Downtown who are good citizens and respectful to business, visitors and shoppers! However- there are many who are NOT homeless and choose to use our Downtown sidewalks as their playground and enjoy threatening, intimidating and or engaging in behavior that hurts the vitality of commerce and creates negative pereceptions about City's living room.
The ordinances obviously address the matters such as if you are impaired or have a "need" to sit or lie down then that is accomodated- as well as events like a parade, Hoopfest other matters that encourage individuals to gather and use our sidewalks appropriately.
The panhandling does not allow you to panhandle within 15 feet of businesses front doors and you cannot panhandle within 15 of a cash machine.
The final ordinances will be coming out next week and the DSP will be posting those on our website- www.downtownspokane.net.
I am interested in thougths from others on these very challenging issues we face like all other URBAN cores!
Sit-Lie Ordinance Useless, Says SF Police
San Francisco's controversial sit-lie ordinance, which passed in November by a narrow margin, has accomplished what many predicted: nothing. The law, making it verboten to sit or lie on public sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., was favored strongly by local business owners and some residents in the Haight-Ashbury. They claimed they were being harassed by scrappy street urchins who loitered on nearby sidewalks.
CBS 5 reports:After months of training, officers began enforcing the law in March, but at a bimonthly CompStat meeting involving some of the Police Department’s top brass Wednesday, police Lt. Belinda Kerr from the Park Station acknowledged that the law has not done much to change behavior in the area.There has been “a prolific amount of arrests, citations and warnings … but I haven’t seen that it’s done a whole lot,” Kerr said.
She said the transients will often get up when they see officers drive by in their patrol cars, but “unfortunately are getting up and going around the block and then sitting down again.”
Sit-lie was slammed by homeless advocates who saw the ordinance as "a loss of civil liberties and an attack on all homeless people."
SPOKANE--A string of recent assaults in downtown Spokane is prompting council members to review a city ordinance that bans people from sitting or lying around on downtown sidewalks during a significant portion of the day.
The ordinance is currently in effect between seven in the morning and nine at night. There's been talk about expanding that ordinance into the early morning hours and it's now stirring up some debate in the community.
Between June 8th and July 8th police investigated 15 felony assaults. One of the victims included "Vinnie", a well-known developmentally delayed man who was previously featured on KREM2 News.
Authorities say the primary suspects in these types of cases tend to be street kids.
Police have increased their presence downtown and officials say it appears to be helping. Since July 9th there have been zero felony assaults. With the possible ordinance extension, there’s hope the good trend will continue.
The Public Safety Committee will be gathering input in the next couple of weeks. City council members could possibly vote on this by early August.
An ordinance that bans sitting or lying on downtown Spokane sidewalks during a 14-hour period of the day could be expanded to include more hours after a surge of assaults in the area.
“If we can make the environment uncomfortable for people who are committing crimes or are contemplating committing crimes, I think that’s a good thing,” Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said Monday at the city’s Public Safety Committee meeting.
The city’s current “sit and lie” ordinance, approved in 2008, prohibits people from sitting or lying on a downtown sidewalk between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Stuckart said the fact that many of the assaults investigated by police since June occurred after 9 p.m. shows the ordinance could be extended until the early morning.
“I think we’ve got a pretty strong constitutional case to extend the time,” Stuckart said.
Police say an increased presence in downtown Spokane has helped control the violence that provoked complaints from businesses.
Police investigated 15 felony assaults and three misdemeanor assaults between June 8 and July 8. Several arrests have been made. Weapons ranged from baseball bats to skateboards, and one victim also reported seeing a knife.
The victims range in age and include a well-known developmentally delayed man who’s known only by his first name, Vinnie. Local club promoters hosted a party for Vinnie at the Knitting Factory last summer.
Vinnie was attacked June 17. A possible suspect was identified, but the victim was not able to identify him and no one has been arrested, according to the Spokane Police Department.
“Primarily, the suspects in these cases were, for lack of a better word, a pack of 15- to 20-year-old street kids,” said Maj. Frank Scalise.
Scalise said the assaults were similar: One person who was usually intoxicated would distract a victim “while the remainder of the group would strike the person or try to grab their property.”
Police adjusted their schedules to allow more officers to patrol downtown later, and officers have been instructed to get out of their cars “and walk a foot beat for at least an hour,” Scalise said.
An officer who teaches law enforcement classes at Spokane Public Schools’ Skills Center but is free during the summer is now working downtown. Detectives also patrolled downtown, as well as members of the Patrol Anti Crime Team, some undercover.
Scalise called the police presence “highly visible.”
“The situation, as we saw it, had flared up,” Scalise said. “It obviously needed some immediate attention and some focused attention.”
Scalise said police focused on the area between Spokane Falls Boulevard and Third Avenue, from Lincoln Street to Bernard Street. The epicenter appears be near Howard and Third, said Stuckart. He said a convenience store that opened there has “drawn the moths to the flame a little bit.”
City Councilman Jon Snyder noted that many businesses have closed in the area.
“We’ve got a dead zone in downtown in the middle of the city,” Snyder said. “When you have those kind of dead zones that are that big, it’s kind of credible that that kind of activity becomes magnetized.”
Update on Sit/Lie(/Stand) Ordinance by Mike-d.
The City Ordinance that makes it a crime to sit, lie, or stand in Portland, Oregon received a new set of "enforcement guidelines" this summer. The new guidelines apply to Portland City Code (PCC) 14A.50.030, "Conduct Prohibited On Public Property" in a sub-section called "Obstructions as Nuisances," which technically focus only on obstructions to public ways and isn't specifically about standing, sitting, or lying on the sidewalk. The new guidelines are intended to help officers and citizens know what is acceptable and what is considered a violation of the City Code.
During an interview in August, Mayor Katz's media spokesperson Tommy Brooks told me something along the lines of the sit/lie ordinance doesn't exist, adding "Sit/lie was voted down by the City Council because the Council felt that it was unconstitutional. The sit/lie ordinance was a pilot project over the last year to see if there would be any problems [with enforcing it]." Noting activists' concerns that this would be used indiscriminately to target the homeless, he said, "The pilot project was successful since there were very few people cited in violation of this [ordinance]."
During my interview with her spokesperson, the Mayor paced back and forth, peering at me and sometimes commenting to Brooks. One reason she may have been uncomfortable was that there was a protest challenging the "Obstructions as Nuisances" ordinance in front of City Hall. Perhaps she thought the activists would storm the building. However, the protestors were too busy doing a sidewalk action and had no intention to try entering City Hall.
According to someone who works at a downtown agency, only 17 tickets have been issued since the program began and they claim 10 of those were the peace campers in front of Portland City Hall. The peace camp, which began on March 20, was eventually forced to shut down in August due to increased police harassment shortly after the guidelines went into effect. The guidelines allow police to give a person one warning and then cite them for being an obstruction (even immediately if they do not move fast enough), after which any other time they are seen sitting or lying anywhere on public property police may cite them again.
So please make sure you are not standing, sitting, or lying on the sidewalk as you read this. Why? In the event you are considered a nuisance that is obstructing the sidewalk, you could get your once-in- a-lifetime warning, be handed a citation, and be arrested, then taken out to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and given a big fine.
Drug-Free Zone Exclusions Slightly Harder
On November 24, Judge Michael Marcus ruled that the appeal process for Portland's "Drug-Free Zones" (DFZs, in which people suspected of drug crimes can be excluded for 90 days or one yearsee PPR #27) was unconstitutional. Marcus found that the standard of proof, an officer's "probable cause" to arrest a person, was too low. The City Council responded on December 3 by unanimously passing an ordinance to raise that standard to "preponderance of the evidence."
The City Attorney and Deputy District Attorney Jim Hayden incorrectly told Council that Marcus had otherwise found DFZs to be perfectly legal. According to attorneys at the Oregon Law Center, which brought the case to court, Marcus did not address any issues beyond the appeals process.
Seven months into the enforcement of Portland’s Sidewalk Management Ordinance, there are no lawsuits festering in the wings, no major protests at City Hall, and little in terms of social discourse under the banner of civil rights violations. The absence is notable considering that this plan, which regulates sitting and lying on public sidewalks, was born of nearly a decade of sit-lie regulations drawing all of the above.
Unlike similar city efforts in the past, which essentially prohibited sitting or lying on sidewalks downtown wholesale, the complete sidewalk management plan includes an agenda of actions to alleviate sidewalk problems. It includes a regular, open forum called the Public Sidewalk Management Advisory Committee, with business representatives, community advocates, representatives of city commissioners, police, and anyone interested in attending. As both a watchdog and sounding board for the ordinance, the advisory committee meets monthly to discuss sidewalk management and the ordinance’s performance, under the oversight of Commissioner Amanda Fritz.
“As a participant and an advocate, I always thought the previous ones were unconstitutional because there wasn’t anywhere on downtown sidewalks where people could sit or lie if they didn’t have a place to go, and this ordinance expressly allows people to do that.”
So far, she says, it seems to be working.
“I’m getting far fewer angry messages from all sides,” Fritz says. Fritz says she still gets some messages from tourists who complain about panhandlers, and the local community understands the challenges and is “moving in the right direction,” but that they will always have to contend with more challenges and limited resources.
Passed in May, the ordinance prohibits anyone from sitting, lying, or keeping possessions beyond his or her immediate reach in the “pedestrian use zone” of downtown and Rose Quarter/Lloyd district sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
The pedestrian zone extends from the building frontage out eight feet for sidewalks 10 feet wide or more. For sidewalks less than 10 feet wide, the zone is six feet. The ordinance leaves the two feet next to the curb open to non-pedestrian activities.
The ordinance also requires that people keep their dog leashed and its neck within two feet of the owner. There are exceptions to the prohibitions, including people waiting for services, street musicians, and people who for medical reasons are unable to comply with the ordinance.
Violators receive written warnings prior to being cited. Citations call people into court with the options of entering a community court program, community service, or paying a fine up to $250. Or people may challenge the citation.
Since enforcement began in mid-June, through to Dec. 31, police have issued 118 verbal warnings, 23 written warnings, and 13 citations. Of the people approached by police, 109 said they were homeless or living in a shelter. Twenty-seven gave an address of residence.
The Portland Business Alliance has been a driving force in all variations of sidewalk management downtown, including the two versions that were declared unconstituional. This ordinance, according to Megan Doern, PBA spokeswoman, seems to be working.
“Everyone felt that the time in between the two (ordinances) was really difficult, and now that we do have the Sidewalk Management Ordinance, it has helped retailers and property owners manage their store front a lot better,” Doern said. “There’s a lot of demand on our sidewalks and this ordinance has struck a balance on all of those.”
Of course, not everyone is convinced the ordinance is a good thing. Regular concerns finding include relief from the weather, private security interaction and clarity on where the high pedestrian zones really are. The city has yet to put down markers in contested areas as promised when the ordinance was passed. The city’s Human Rights Commission has come out against it, calling it a human rights violation, one that violates the right of people to be “free from discrimination and the right to rest and leisure.” The vast majority of people warned and cited under the ordinance are homeless.
Brett, who was sitting downtown near Pioneer Courthouse Square, said he has been approached by police about the ordinance.
“They want us to sleep right there on the curb, which means we’re breathing in all the carbon monoxide….They put us right on the curb, which isn’t healthy. I know we’re on the streets and stuff, but it’s still not healthy.”
A woman who goes by “Big Mamma” said she’s been approached and told to move, and that police are usually concerned with her belongings she keeps around her. She can typically be seen sitting with her cart, knitting, reading or waiting on friends. Big Mamma said that police have told her that it is against the law, and she tells them that she is not harming anyone. She believes that if she isn’t harming anyone, there should be nothing illegal about her taking the space.
“We try to go into places that we are not going to hassle anybody. We just want to lay down and go to sleep. … We don’t damage your property, so what is the problem with laying down?”
Tricia Knoll, a representative from the Human Rights Commission on the Fritz’s advisory committee, says that people should be able to get away from the curb in inclement weather, and that disabilities are not always apparent to trigger the exemptions under the law.
“Not all disabilities are visible,” Knoll says. “Sleep deprivation, malnutrition, depression mental health issues are not charted out (in the ordinance). They can’t see that you are a disabled person.”
The ordinance is enforced by bike and mounted patrol units of the Portland Police, however, security officers are permitted to inform people if they are in violation. The mounted police element has become a point of concern, given the intimidation factor of the horses. Portland Copwatch’s Dan Handelman said the law also opens the potential for pretext stops.
“Every month that they give out statistics, there are unrelated arrests,” Handelman said. “This has become a pretext tool to get people for other criminal activity, which is not a stated goal. It’s not the right solution for the problem they’re trying to fix.”
Police reported 12 unrelated arrests and 7 unrelated citations in their interactions under the ordinance since it went into effect in June.
The ordinance was based on the safe clearance requirements of the American’s with Disability Act, however participants at the advisory committee who live with disabilities have indicated the larger problem isn’t people, but bad curb cuts, newspaper boxes, and other physical structures placed on sidewalks by businesses.
Fritz said that physical structures fall under the Portland Department of Transportation, where enforcement is “grossly underfunded.” Fritz is calling on citizens who are concerned about the issue to call it into the city and report problems.
Chani Giegle-Teller, community organizer with Sisters of the Road, which advocates on behalf of people experiencing homelessness, says her organization is concerned that people are getting moved out of the downtown area who are not included in the figures.
“We appreciate the process that the city is going through to keep this accountable, but in our experience at what we’re seeing still, on a daily basis, is there is a lot of enforcement that is not being documented,” said Giegle-Teller. “So we still feel like it’s a law that is being unfairly used to target people experiencing homelessness. It’s still, in our opinion, a move-along law.”
Geigle-Teller said Sisters hears from its customers reports of being asked a host of questions by police, and that’s not being documented.
“Whether it’s a friendly warning or harassment depends on whether you’re sitting on top of a horse or sitting on a street corner,” Giegle-Teller said.
That the preponderance of interaction on the ordinance is with homeless people is not lost on Fritz. But, she said, that is why instructions have been given to Clean & Safe, the downtown security and cleaning detail of the Portland Business Alliance, to give people in violation an alternative.
“They’re saying please move over here, rather than please go away,” Fritz said. “It gives everybody an alternative.
The ordinance is actually one element of the larger sidewalk management plan that calls for 12 action items, with concessions for both advocates for the homeless and the business community. They include the completion of the Resource Access Center, which is slated to open in June, increased enforcement of criminal activity downtown, the development of a downtown retail strategy, support for referral resources, and increasing the number of public restrooms embodied by fast-tracking the siting of Randy Leonard’s Portland Loos.
“I do think we are making reasonable progress on the 12 point plan,” Leonard said, adding that he has not heard any new complaints from the business community since the council adopted the ordinance.
“I am not sure how objectively the ordinance has worked,” Leonard said. “However, I do think that people are trying more to not obstruct the flow of sidewalk traffic.”
The plan includes a partnership between the city and the Portland Business Alliance to create a donation program in retail stores to fund outreach efforts through New Avenues for Youth to connect with young homeless individuals. By last fall, the campaign had $25,000 in pledges from the city, the PBA, American Express and Travel Portland, among others.
“There is still work to do,” says Veronica Rinard, community relations director with Travel Portland, which was in discussions with the city while the ordinance was being crafted. “We still have people out there who need help, and we still have instances where visitors feel uncomfortable. I think we’re interested in continuing conversations with the city on what is possible and what the possible solutions might be.”
In 2002, the city’s Obstructions as Nuisances ordinance banned people from sitting or lying on a public sidewalk. Multiple protests occured at City Hall in the year that followed, including a 24-hour camp outside the building, which resulted in a lawsuit.
In 2004, the city’s sit-lie ordinance was declared unconstitutional in Circuit Court, with the judge ruling that the law was unconstitutionally broad and vague. From June of 2004 until December of 2005 no ordinance was enforced. In December of that year, a new pilot sit-lie ordinance was put in place, which also later struck down for being unconstitutional.
Fritz said the advisory panel was intentionally set up not as an oversight committee, which existed under the previous ordinance, and which Fritz said diverted responsibility away from the elected council.
“I’m very clear that the oversight responsibility to this is the City Council,” Fritz said. “We don’t charge (the committee) with coming to consensus. We don’t ask them to make deals. It’s more, here’s the issue, who has suggestions on what we should do about it.”
SPOKANE, Wash. -- City leaders are talking about whether Downtown Spokane's new “sit and lie” ordinance is working.
The city’s Safety Committee met Monday to discuss the impact of the law.
The ordinance bans sitting or lying down on public sidewalks between 6 a.m. and midnight. The rules took effect February 1.
Some critics worry the law unfairly targets the homeless, while other people say the rules were making positive changes.
Dennis Smith pushes close to 100 pounds of belongings along Spokane streets every day. When he recently stopped to take a rest, he said he couldn't believe the citation he received.
“I was sitting down and he gave me a trespassing ticket for no reason,” said Smith.
Smith is one of 22 people who have been cited under the ordinance. One hundred and sixty other people received warnings.
City spokesman Brian Coddington said while some of the warnings and citations have been given to the homeless, the law is not designed to target them.
“Most of the services and cases that we're seeing are being directed into community court, which is direct access to services for homeless housing and other services, like mental health counseling, that are necessary and needed for some folks,” said Coddington.
Joan Medina, who works at the Downtown library, said the law is having unintended consequences.
“A co-worker of mine was hassled for sitting on the ledge of the building. We were at work and she was threatened with arrest,” said Medina. “She showed her badge to the police officer she talked to and he didn't care.”
As for Smith, he said not resting on city sidewalks is just about impossible for him, considering most homeless shelters like the House of Charity put homeless people back out on the street at 7 a.m.
“Sometimes, they don't give you no fine. They give you jail time,” said Smith.
Some Downtown business owners told KREM 2 they were happy the homeless are being forced off the sidewalk along with so-called “street kids.”
As for the effects of the ordinance so far, city officials said it's really too early to tell, so the discussion will continue.
Spokane City Council expands sidewalk ordinance aimed at homeless
SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Spokane City Council passed an ordinance Monday night that expands the law that makes it illegal to sit or lie on downtown sidewalks during business hours.
Supporters of the ordinance said it would help push the homeless community to use City services to get them off the street.
Those against a more strict ordinance said it is going to punish them for being homeless and that the policy does not work in cities across the country.
The previous rules had banned sitting or laying on a sidewalk from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. That did not include bennches or any place meant for someone to sit down.
Opponents said many of the homeless sleep on the sidewalk so if the ban is stretched until midnight the homeless would have to wait later to go to bed.
Supporters said this is a step to help them use the programs already available and that the City spends millions of dollars each year.
"Our goal is to get them into transitional services, you know, I don't think any of us really want to say I want to empower you to lay on the sidewalk, that's not a lifestyle I think we want for our citizens,” said Spokane City Councilman Mike Allen.
"Seems like we just want to criminalize homelessness and rush to judgment on this issue, instead of waiting for those good proposals that are in the works right now,” said Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart.
Opponents said the City was currently looking into helping the homeless and should not rush to vote on the issue. Supporters said this would help Downtown stores by creating a friendlier environment for customers and it will help them feel safer.
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