Tag Archives: SAFE committee

Sit-lie is a gateway drug

August 12, 2008

One good dose of this distracting intoxicant and a whole roomful of people are likely to spin off on every social ill, vice and offense ever witnessed on Portland’s streets.

Yesterday at the public hearing for the city’s sit-lie ordinance (more formally known as the sidewalk obstruction ordinance) about 60 people assembled at the First Unitarian Church with members of the Street Access for Everyone, or SAFE Oversight Committee. They attended the two-hour hearing, organized by Mayor Tom Potter’s office, to give their views on the controversial ordinance that bans sitting or lying on downtown sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. It also bans leaving belongings and pets farther than two feet away from your body.

While the ordinance was the launch pad for this debate, discussion from participants ran the gamut: complaints about anti-camping policies, police sweeps and the routing of people without homes, the lack of follow-through on city’s pledges to open more restrooms, install sufficient numbers of benches and create a permanent day access center – the latter three promised by the city in exchange for the sit-lie ordinance.

Several people raised the issue of private security guards, hired by the Portland Business Alliance, being confused with police officers, who they said are enforcing the law inconsistently. There were also complaints by downtown workers and business owners who say they’ve been harassed, grabbed and even spit on by people outside their businesses, that aggressive panhandling is a problem, and that the number of homeless people, particularly “scary” youths, on the street is growing – none of which has much to do with the law itself, nor are they situations that sit-lie has done one whit to alleviate, despite efforts to couple them politically.

More after the jump.

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