SALEM, Ore. — Officials in Salem, Oregon are considering an ordinance that would outlaw sitting or lying on city sidewalks during the day.
With certain exceptions, the proposed ordinance would give police the option to cite and remove violators from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Statesman Journal reported (http://stjr.nl/2xxZba4 ) on Wednesday.
The proposal also bans people from camping and sitting in chairs on sidewalks except during events and for businesses with outdoor seating.
Salem Police Deputy Chief Skip Miller said the department tries to connect people with the resources that could help them, but police also have to deal with business and safety concerns.
“Homelessness is not a crime,” Miller said. “We’re in no way trying to make homelessness a crime. We want to get help and resources to those people.”
Kimberly McCullough, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, said an ordinance like this violates people’s rights, and it doesn’t curtail homelessness. She said resources should be directed at solving the root of the problem like the lack of affordable housing.
Portland approved a similar ordinance that was struck down in court in 2009. Judge Stephen Bushong issued the ruling that cited the ordinance as clashing with state law.
Salem City Manager Steve Powers said the ordinance was carefully drafted by the city attorney’s office.
“Might it be challenged? Sure,” Powers said. “I do know that I wouldn’t be bringing this forward if I knew it was legally flawed.”
Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com