City Council extends Sit-Lie until October

This morning, City Council voted 4-1 to extend the term of the sit-lie ordinance until Oct. 23, 2009. Commissioner Amanda Fritz had proposed prolonging the term of the ordinance, which was scheduled to sunset in June, so that she and Commissioner Nick Fish could spearhead a community-wide discussion before deciding what to do with the law in the long term. Last week, council heard testimony from one person in favor of extending the ordinance and more than 20 people opposed to it.

Tobiah Tillman protested the ordinance last week

Tobiah Tillman protested the sit-lie ordinance last week

Commissioner Randy Leonard was the only council member against the temporary extension last week and this morning’s only “no” vote.

“Sometimes our community gets caught up in process for process’ sake, as if process is a means in itself,” Leonard said. “This process that’s being asked for by my colleagues is at the expense of some of the most vulnerable in our community, and I am just appalled.”

He added that he hopes Fritz and Fish will arrive at the same conclusion he has: that the sit-lie ordinance does not work.

Fritz said she does not yet know how she’ll vote on renewing the ordinance in the fall, but she identified issues from last week’s testimony that she wants to address over the next few months.

“I know that a lot of passion has been provoked by this effort (to extend the ordinance),” Fish said. “I’m confident that with the breathing room that has been proposed and the chance to have a broader community conversation, we can come back in 4-5 months (to vote it up or down), and … have a better understanding of the various ways it could be strengthened if it was to go forward.”

City Council will reconsider renewing the ordinance in September.

Posted by Mara Grunbaum

One response to “City Council extends Sit-Lie until October

  1. This sadly reminds me of the torture discussions, in a way. Not in terms of atrocity, but simply that everyone except Randy seems to be worried about “effectiveness” and whether they work, and even Leonard seems to have staked his position based on it “not working.”

    Yet the more obvious and salient question is, should the City be punishing people for sitting down when they have nowhere else to sit? And furthermore, should they at least be holding up their end of the bargain, whatever the excuse for not having appropriate services ready? Yeah, there’s a recession. Guess who knew it before you? The people getting cited for sit-lie.

    Legally and morally, the arguments have been clearly stated and won’t change with 5000 more months of community process: sit-lie is an inappropriate attempt to shun and “move along” those that we’re already doing an injustice to…by allowing them to remain homeless when they desire shelter. This is a surprising and disappointing position Commissioner Fritz has taken, not at all in keeping with my pre-election view of her.

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