The Orion

City Council passes new sit-lie ordinance

Kindra Robinson

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homeless.jpg

“Digger,” a local homeless man, sits with his cat, Spot, across from 7/11. Photo credit: Emily Teague

 

City Council passed a new ordinance on Sept. 15 that instills harsher punishments for individuals found sleeping, camping or other obstructive behavior in public places throughout Chico.

The city’s current sit-lie ordinance restricts people from sitting or lying in public places, such as sidewalks. Police issued citations to those in violation, however homeless people found themselves without a way to pay.

The new changes will allow police to arrest individuals who are found sleeping or storing personal property in public.

“I don’t think it’s an extreme problem,” said Esmeralda Ramos, junior nutrition major. “I think it’s a little bit overboard arresting them.”

This decision was in response to the large amount of homeless people found engaging in such behavior. University Police receive regular calls about individuals sleeping near the Physical Science Building on campus. There have also been reports of transients shouting at people downtown and scaring them away from local businesses.

Many homeless people find the ordinance to be unfair, criminalizing something that many feel they have little to no control over.

“It’s not our fault that we’re on the street,” said an anonymous homeless man in Depot Park. “Locking up the homeless is fruitless.”

The ordinance may be put into effect as early as November. The City Council listened to a number of citizens’ opinions before making the decision to pass the ordinance.

Kindra Robinson can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @KR0bins0n1

 

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “City Council passes new sit-lie ordinance”

  1. Jerri Lefever on March 30th, 2018 7:46 am

    After arrests, where do the homeless go? County jail in Oroville? When released are they transported back to their original location? Or are they released in Oroville?

    Seeking answers,, Thank you Jerri.

  2. Robert Berry on September 6th, 2018 8:49 am

    Your article is inaccurate. Sit/lie does not “instill harsher punishments”. If you heard the police report, only 39 people received citations, but only after belligerently refusing to requests to move. Of those, most infractions were dismissed because of more serious criminal matters, or received much needed services.

    Because sit/lie is an INFRACTION, no arrests have ever been made solely on the basis of sitting or laying on the siddwalks, but it is true that LEGAL CONTACT initiated by a sit/lie complaint led to the discovery of other criminal matters, such as outstanding warrants, leading to arrest. Does anyone believe that those with arrest warrants should not be arrested by the police?

    The proposed sit/lie ordinance does nothing regarding sleeping or storing personal items. Sleeping is not a crime, even an infraction. Where you sleep is an issue. For example, people are not allowed to sleep on your porch without your permission. This ordinance is strictly limited to pedestrian walkways. Storing or dumping personal items on public property, like our parks, is already illegal.

    Given that infractions do not authorize arrest, the quote from Ms. Ramos is irrelevant.

    I realize this is a student paper, but please, do just a little more work to get the facts right.

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City Council passes new sit-lie ordinance