Tag Archives: sit-lie ordinance

Seattle councilmen tour Dignity Village

Seattle Councilman Nick Licata, left, speaks with Dignity Village member Scott Layman inside of the common room during a tour of Dignity Village Friday, March 4. Licata was joined by fellow council members Sally Bagshaw and Tom Rasmussen. Seattle is considering recreating a similar agreement for tent cities residents in Seattle. For more than a decade, Dignity Village has worked with the city as a transitional housing option for people working to move out of homelessness.

Above, Seattle Councilmen Sally Bagshaw, left, and Nick Licata, right, take photographs of the structures at Dignity Village during a tour given by villager Scott Layman, center. Photos by Amiran White.

Seattle Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw blogged about the visit to Dignity.

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More vendors than ever are selling Street Roots, so you’ll be seeing a few new faces out on the beat. Like all of our crew, they’re working hard to bring you the latest edition, which is on the press today. Here’s what’s coming your way Friday morning:

All the world’s a stage: Musicians and performers vie for attention in downtown Portland sidewalks. Now the city is looking at revisiting an aging agreement on how buskers and businesses can peaceably share the spotlight.

Sidewalk management clears sit-lie hurdles of years past: Nothing is perfect, but the ordinance in place seems to have quelled much of the fury over how we use our downtown sidewalks.

Health care, once — and for all: Dr. Margaret Flowers talks about the renewed campaign for single-payer health care coverage, even as Washington D.C. looks at gutting reform altogether

Street Roots 2010 Annual Report: A rundown of the past year, recognizing our vendors, volunteers and supporters who made 2010 remarkable.

Plus, commentary, poetry and opinion from the streets, with just a dash of weather forecasting from Soup Can Sam. Get yours Friday morning and your prep for the weekend will be complete!

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sept0409page1They say rain is headed our way, which means bring a plastic bag when you head out to pick up your new copy of Street Roots. These colors don’t run, but the paper gets sticky when wet. Here’s what’s fit to print this week:

Will success spoil Michael Franti? The hip hop/reggae rocker of Spearhead has his first megahit riding up the charts, but he’s keeping his (bare) feet on the ground with his grassroots activism. Joanne Zuhl spoke to Franti in advance of the band’s concert at the Roseland.

Healing lessons: How the U.S. can adopt a health care system that’s fairer and costs less. Adam Hyla interviews “Healing of America” author and researcher T.R. Reid.

Reuse, recycle, respect: Portland re-use artist Taylor Cass Stevenson reports on her travels and the obstacles for urban recyclers in the Third World.

Children of all ages: Portland photographer John Ryan Brubaker stopped by The Circus Project’s rehearsal in advance of their debut – a show o benefit the nonprofit’s work with at-risk and homeless youths.

All this and a crossword puzzle! Yes, you clamored and our vendors delivered the message loud and clear. Each edition of Street Roots will now feature a crossword puzzle on the back page, and we hope to hear from you as we work to put a Street Roots spin on each one. Thanks for your input and your support of our dynamic vendor team!

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july1009page1The cool breezes call for a cup of joe and a seat outside of your favorite café with your favorite newspaper. The new Street Roots comes out tomorrow morning and your friendly neighborhood vendor will be standing sentry with all this in his or her hands:

Balancing act: Ted Wheeler wants to talk about urban renewal areas. Here’s why you should listen. Joanne Zuhl interviews the Multnomah County chairman.

Precinct shuffle brings new faces, attitudes into Southeast: Amanda Waldroupe explores what it means for Central Precinct to assume authority over Portland’s Southeast neighborhoods.

‘This is a bigger issue:’ An interview by Israel Bayer with City Commissioner Amanda Fritz on the latest decisions surrounding sit-lie and street access.

The eye of the beholder: From the Great Depression to modern day, ‘Hobos to Street People’ showcases artists’ interpretation of poverty and homelessness.

And so much more that 16 pages can barely hold it all. But we did it again – all for the price of $1! So pour a tall one and support fair trade by picking up a copy of Street Roots.

Posted by Joanne Zuhl

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

Public argues against extending Sit-Lie

Leo Rhodes

Leo Rhodes

Fritz and Fish insist they need time for further discussion

City Council heard a wave of public testimony this morning against the downtown sit-lie ordinance, which they are considering extending until at least October 23, 2009.

The 2-year-old Sidwalk Obstruction Ordinance was scheduled to expire June 8. A Street Access For Everyone committee report finding that the ordinance was predominantly enforced against homeless people was presented to council in November.

Rather than having the council decide whether or not to renew the controversial ordinance permanently, Commissioner Amanda Fritz proposed prolonging its term to give her and Commissioner Nick Fish — both relatively new to council — time to study the ordinance and discuss it with the wider community.

For the play-by-play: Continue reading

Human rights group returns to City Hall after 11-year absence

Nov. 27, 2008 (From the Nov. 14, edition of Street Roots)

New commission has the daunting task of protecting and advocating for the human rights of all Portlanders. (By Amanda Waldroupe, Contributing Writer)

Del Monte. James Chasse. Accusations of racism during the Cesar Chavez debate. A homeless protest in front of City Hall. “No Section 8.” What’s missing from the list?
A place where individuals can bring their grievances and charges of discrimination, bigotry, hate crimes and injustice to find redress.

That changed on Nov. 5, when the Human Rights Commission, charged with advocating for the human rights of Portland’s citizens, held its first meeting since being reassembled by Portland’s City Council in January.

“You folks have an important job in front of you,” Mayor Tom Potter said at the beginning of the meeting.


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October 2, 2008

The new Street Roots hits the streets tomorrow. Buy a new copy from your local and friendly neighborhood vendor. You won’t be disappointed.

Amanda Waldroupe gets the scoop with Richard Harris, the former Executive Director of Central City Concern. Harris is now heading up the Addiction and Mental Health Division with the State of Oregon and hopes to change the cultural of the states mental health delivery systems.

The sit-lie ordinance is ruled constitutional. A local judge likens the statute to public safety laws regarding bicycling. Find out what went down in the courtroom and why attorneys are appealing the decision.

Michael Munk, the local author of Portland’s Red Guide talks Marxism, the Rose City’s radical past and where the Left fairs today.

Another installment of Tye Doudy’s Addict’s Almanac brings us a bit closer to the realities of life as a junkie.

Readers respond to Addicts Almanac, hundreds of activists squat Seattle’s parks, Michael Anderson is hired as the Oregon Opportunity Network’s Executive Director, and Soup Can Sam gives you something extra to think about.

Judge rules Portland’s sit-lie law constitutional, reasonable

Sept. 19, 2008

A move to have Portland’s controversial sidewalk obstructions ordinance, commonly known as sit-lie, declared unconstitutional went nowhere before Judge Terry Hannon in Multnomah County Circuit Court today.

The case was brought to court by attorney William Meyers on behalf of his client, Correygene Douglas Newman, who did not attend today’s proceedings. In addition to finding the ordinance constitutional, Judge Hannon ruled that Newman was guilty on charges of violating the ordinance on multiple occasions in November 2007, and sentenced him to 8 hours of community service.

“It is constitutional and it is reasonable,” Judge Hannon told the courtroom, after nearly two hours of statements and testimony on the issue. Hannon said he based his ruling on the fact that violating the law is not a criminal offense, and that it carries a minor fine of $250 with the option of community service. He also noted that the ordinance only applies to two limited commercial districts – downtown Portland and the Rose Quarter – and that it is limited to daylight hours. The ordinance prohibits people from sitting or lying on the sidewalk in those areas between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Hannon dismissed Meyer’s argument that the law targeted homeless people, despite the fact that the majority of those warned or cited under the law in the past year were homeless or of unknown residence. Meyers said the law violated constitutional rights that protect free speech and prohibit cruel and unusual punishment, echoing the arguments of Portland advocates for people experiencing homelessness. City attorney Ellen Osoniach argued that the law doesn’t violate civil rights because there is no expressed “right” to sit on the sidewalk.

Hannon said the law may affect a specific group, but that does not necessarily mean they are targeted for citations. Hannon likened the ordinance to laws that prohibit people riding bicycles on downtown sidewalks in the interest of public safety.

Hannon made no reference to the fact that Newman had said on two occasions when he was cited that he was protesting the sit-lie ordinance. Citing officer Craig Dobson testified that Newman said he used a sign to protest the ordinance, but that it rotated with other signs for panhandling. Newman was cited while sitting on the sidewalk panhandling outside of RiteAid at the corner of Alder Street and Sixth Avenue. Dobson said he was called there to investigate a report of aggressive panhandling, but that he didn’t witness any aggressive behavior.

“A lot of times they call about aggressive panhandling when in fact, they’re just panhandling,” Dobson told the court.

More on this case to come.

Posted by Joanne Zuhl

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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Aug. 7, 2008

The new edition of Street Roots rolls out on Friday. You can buy one from your favorite vendor or a new friend on the beat.  Here’s what you can look forward to:

The 10-year itch
Portland’s plan to end homelessness reaches a tender age in touch times.
How will the 10-year plan to end homelessness, conceived in a time of plenty, weather the current economic downturn and expected recession? Reporter Amanda Waldroupe talks with policy makers and advocates about the plan’s continued effectiveness in housing people, even as costs increase, funds diminish and affordable housing gets increasingly difficult to find.

City’s tax abatements miss their mark

A report from the Portland City Auditor’s office is critical of the oversight and efficacy of the city’s housing tax abatement programs, which are designed to encourage development in areas that would not be developed, and create needed affordable housing. The report draws the success of these abatements into question, and notes clear violations against the intention of the programs.

Word on the street: The workings of the sit-lie ordinance
Excerpts from a day of interviews by Street Roots with 49 people on the street about their experience with the sit-lie ordinance and its enforcers.

Attacks against homeless spike in 2007
The latest compilation of figures on violence against the homeless indicate things have gotten significantly worse since 2006. “Hate, Violence and Death on Main Street USA: A report gainst Hate Crimes and Violence Against people Experiencing Homelessness” indicates  that the number of attacks has gone up 13 percent over 2006 figures – 28 resulting in death.

The Addict’s Almanac
Part two in a series by Tye Doudy on his experience as an addict in Portland.

Editorial: Anatomy of a Press Release
The feds are playing a shell game with the facts when it comes to the impact this administration is making on homelessness.

And much more, including commentary, poetry and prose from the streets, news, Act Now, and your comments.

Posted by Joanne Zuhl

Street folks talk sidewalk laws

August 1, 2008

On Tuesday July 27, Street Roots interviewed 27 individuals experiencing homelessness and two canvassers on Portland street corners.

Fifteen of the 27 individuals had been given verbal or written warnings or citations for the sidewalk obstruction ordinance. Twelve of those interviewed say they have also been warned by some form of private security or building owners not to sit on the sidewalks. Almost everyone Street Roots talked to had been given a park exclusion notice in the last 30 days – many of which came from Portland Patrol Inc.

Street Roots will be spending two more days on the streets this weekend and next week interviewing individuals on the streets about their experience with the sidewalk obstruction ordinance. Interviews will be published in next weeks Street Roots coming out on August 8th. Here’s a few excerpts. 

Jace and Chris, two canvassers with Children’s International at SW Third and Morrison

Street Roots: Have you been given a warning or citation for the sidewalk obstruction ordinance?

Jace: Sometimes if I’m sitting down smoking a cigarette I will be told I can’t be sitting down,  but what I notice is that the cops will be very nice to me, but actually give people who look homeless actual written warnings. I’ve witnessed three or four people who are homeless being targeted for the law.

Street Roots: So, you’ve witnessed people on the streets being targeted?

Jace: I’ve witnessed only homeless people on the streets being warned or ticketed.

Street Roots: Are the people giving warnings police or private security guards?

Chris: Both. In fact, on this street corner it’s more private security than anyone else in my experience. I mean, let’s be honest, the private security guys don’t answer to anybody, what are you going to do? 


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Sisters Of The Road to hold truth commission on sit-lie law

Portland, Oregon (July 21,) — Thursday, August 7, 2008, Sisters Of The Road will hold a truth commission on the effects of the Sit-Lie Law on Portland’s homeless community. It will be held at Sisters at 133 NW 6th Ave at 5:30pm.

According to data submitted to the City by the Portland Police Bureau, the Sit-Lie Law has been enforced almost exclusively against homeless people. Enforcement of the Sit-Lie Law is not only inhumane and immoral, it’s unconstitutional; the constitution says laws cannot be enforced against any one class of people. Of the 88 warnings and citations issued between August 30th, 2007 and January 22nd, 2008, 79 were people who were identified as homeless, transient, or no address was listed, said Patrick Nolen, Community Organizer for Sisters Of The Road.

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Group marches against sit-lie, camping ordinances

(July 9) A group of what appears to be around 200 individuals – mostly young college kids and individuals on the streets marched from the North Park Blocks to the Clean & Safe (Portland Patrol Inc.) headquarters chanting, “Stop police brutality, stop the war against the poor.”

The group is apparently protesting the sit-lie and camping ordinances while trying to raise awareness about the Portland Patrol Inc. (PPI) overseen by the Portland Business Alliance via the City of Portland. The controversial private security company has the capacity to enforce public policy (park exclusions) with no government oversight.

The group gathered to give a round of speeches across the street from the downtown Clean & Safe offices. After one speaker told the crowd that PPI has the authority to carry weapons, one onlooker asked who gives them that authority?  There was no answer.

After a few speeches the group moved from the Clean & Safe offices down 1st Avenue in route to the police station and the Portland Business Alliance headquarters.

One individual was ticketed by police for interfering with traffic at NW 1st & Davis.

A Portland Coalition Against Poverty pamphlet handed out during the rally says they are “dedicated to ending poverty through community empowerment and the dismantling of institutions that perpetuate inequality and oppression.” 

posted by Israel Bayer

We’re waiting.

Street Roots editorial, June 27.

After more than three weeks of protests by individuals experiencing homelessness, countless actions (including actions by Street Roots and Sisters Of The Road), weekly testimonials from individuals in front of City Council and the realization for many that we are indeed dealing with a housing crisis, Portland finds itself at a crossroads.

City Hall has sent a clear and consistent message that both the camping ordinance and the sit-lie ordinance will not be repealed, at least not in the near future.

First and foremost, the outrage on the streets is in direct response to a lack of housing and the realities that come with not having a home. For many, those realities come in the form of the enforcement of obscene laws, meant to keep order and maintain business as usual.

Both the camping and sit-lie laws, coupled with park exclusions (overseen by a private security agency that continues to go unchecked) and programs like the Service Coordination Team, are intended to maintain order downtown and to ultimately help individuals. But it’s time our politicians faced the cold, hard facts that these laws are breaking people’s spirits.

Beyond facing the great wilderness of being homeless, individuals on the streets are being constantly harassed by law enforcement and private security agencies that have no clear solutions other than to push them out of sight.

In the past six weeks, many of those individuals have refused to remain invisible.

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