Nov 6, 2013 1:35 AM
Late Tuesday evening, Chico City Council voted to approve a new ordinance aimed at discouraging vagrancy in downtown Chico. This is the 2nd go-around for the so-called sit and lie ordinance. The first was rejected by the city council in August. Tonight a similar ordinance proposal was debate but with some substantial differences.
The aim remains the same to make downtown Chico a safer place for visitors and shoppers by discouraging vagrants from hanging around store-fronts. The new ordinance prohibits sitting or lying on sidewalks, curbs or streets unless the person is having a medical emergency or attending a public event such as a parade. Unlike a previous proposal, this new version would not require any kind of warning before a citation could be issued. Also, the rules will cover all commercial areas within the city, not just downtown businesses.
After more than an hour of public comment, council members voted on the measure passing it five to two with Tami Ritter and Randall Stone voting against it. Mayor Scott Gruendl says the new ordinance isn't perfect but the council couldn't sit around and do nothing. "The bottom line is it's just one tool in the toolbox. The business community and the community itself has done tremendous work on this front already and the least the council can do is contribute to that and the ordinance is one way to do that” said Gruendl.
Tonight's vote was a first reading. The ordinance does not become law until a 2nd reading takes place. That is expected to happen at the next city council meeting. The ordinance would then take effect 30 days after the second reading.
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