CHICO, Calif. - Chico city leaders could reinstate the controversial Sit-Lie Ordinance, banning people from sitting or lying in walkways and business alcoves.
The hotly-debated ordinance was originally passed in December 2013, and it expired in January 2016. Chico Police Chief Mike O'Brien plans to present a proposal to reinstate the ordinance Tuesday night at the Chico City Council meeting.
According to the Chico Police Department, during the last ordinance time period, 221 people received a total of 247 verbal warnings. In addition, 39 people received 56 total citations.
"We do know that it was a pretty successful ordinance that we had," said Commander Billy Aldridge. "It allowed us to have some legal contact with folks and move them along when they were blocking city right-of-ways as far as walkways on the sidewalk, or in front of businesses when they were sleeping in alcoves and things of that nature. It allowed us to have a little bit of ability to make things better for the quality of living in downtown Chico."
Outspoken homeless advocate Patrick Newman says the ordinance is unfair.
"I think if we're going to have 2,000 people living on the streets as we do in Butte County, and this is a West Coast problem, you see it in every city on the West Coast, then I think we need to learn to coexist with people who are on our streets," he said. "Not to keep punishing them, not to keep harassing them, not to keep moving them along."
Newman runs the group "Friends on the Street." He and his team host public feedings, and he is a vocal member of the audience at many city council meetings.
"If a person living on the streets wants to be part of our community, they have the plaza, they have the downtown sidewalks, they have a few benches downtown," Newman said. "I believe in accommodating them on the streets given that we're failing to provide them with the housing we need to provide."
After hearing the Chief's proposal, the council could direct the City Attorney to redraft the original ordinance. That meeting starts at 6 p.m. on Sept. 4 in the City Council Chambers located at 421 Main Street in downtown Chico.
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