New ordinance is a quick fix

Amanda Irons
Amanda Irons

The City of Chico has introduced a new ordinance that will fine individuals who sit or lie on the sidewalks in front of commercial businesses between the hours of 7 a.m. -11 p.m. The fines are progressive starting at $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second, and $300 each time following. The ordinance excludes emergency situations, people using wheelchairs or walkers, public benches, bus stops, outdoor cafes and children in strollers.

I am sure the exceptions come as a big relief to members of the community. Especially those who enjoy sitting on benches, are physically handicapped, or have children young enough to be trotted around in strollers.

The ordinance is in clear response to the homeless population that occupy Downtown Chico. Yet the course of action to combat this issue seems misguided. I also don’t believe law enforcement is going to be keeping a watchful eye out for college students like myself who casually find comfort on the cement. If I had to take a stab, I would guess that the only people feeling the repercussions of this ordinance are going to be the homeless.

What the city is doing to combat the issue of poverty is to look for way to threaten and fine those people who have almost nothing. That seems pretty petty to me.

Tami Ritter, one of two council members who voted against the ordinance, voiced that by implementing the ordinance, “We are pushing them out of the downtown and into the neighborhoods surrounding downtown.” The ordinance won’t terminate the problem. It will simply relocate it.

The council seems to be sweating over how to handle the homeless, but quick fixes are not solutions. It’s time to stop talking about how to deal with the homeless, and start talking to the homeless on how to find a solution.

Amanda Irons can be reached at [email protected] or @amanda_irons on Twitter