Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Only homeless individuals receive sidewalk obstruction warnings

Thirteen written sidewalk obstruction warnings and one citation have been doled out by the Portland Police Bureau between August 30, and October 30, according to documents obtained by Street Roots.

All of the individuals receiving warnings were listed as homeless or transient, according to police reports.

The most recent revision of the sidewalk obstruction ordinance bans individuals from sitting or lying on public sidewalks from 7AM to 9PM. The maximum penalty for violation of the ordinance is $250.

The new ordinance was crafted by the Street Access For Everyone (SAFE) committee, made up of homeless advocates, law enforcement, City Hall, and the business community agreed to allow such an ordinance in exchange for park benches, public restrooms and a homeless day access center – all of which have not been fully implemented.

“The information suggests that the intent of the law’s backers and the intent of the law’s enforcers is to target homeless people,” says Adam Arms, a Portland attorney who successfully represented a case that found a similar law unconstitutional in 2004.

“The information could signify that homeless people happen to be on the receiving end of enforcement because homeless folks are forced to live outside, many on sidewalks,” Arms goes on to say. “In any event, the numbers are disturbing because they seem to confirm the “sit-lie” ordinance critics’ prediction – that the law will be unjustly used to single out homeless people for criminalization.”

Street Roots along with several other organizations opposed the committee’s recommendations to create such an ordinance on the grounds that it would specifically target people on the streets who otherwise do not have a place to sleep, or rest.

The full report on sidewalk obstruction warnings will be presented to the SAFE committee this Thursday morning at City Hall at 9:30AM.

Read the full story on the sidewalk obstruction warnings this Friday in Street Roots.


Patrick Nolen said...

I feel it is important to note that not everyone on the SAFE oversight committee supported the Sidewalk Obstruction Ordinance. Both Genny Nelson and myself spoke against it on many occassions, including twice each in front of City Council. Sisters Of The Road has historically been against any form of a sit lie law.

Street Roots said...

Aight. Noted. Give them hell!