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Mayor Sidesteps Process and Enacts Sit-Lie-Stand Law

Mayor Vera Katz called a press conference this morning (8-16-02) to announce new enforcement guidelines for the cities existing obstructions as nuisances law. (Please see enclosed) The new guidelines will effectively allow enforcement of the law against anyone sitting or standing on a public sidewalk.
Mayor Vera Katz called a press conference this morning (8-16-02) to announce new enforcement guidelines for the cities existing obstructions as nuisances law. (Please see enclosed) The new guidelines will effectively allow enforcement of the law against anyone sitting or standing on a public sidewalk.

When the legislative process to enact a "sit-lie-stand" ordinance began last winter, the City responded to pressure against the law by to opening the process up to community involvement. The mayors press conference today sidestepped that process. Present at the conference were the Portland Police Bureau, The Portland Business Alliance, The District Attorney and The City Attorney. Excluded were the ACLU, Oregon Law Center, Metropolitan Public Defenders Office and crossroads, a people's organization allied with Sisters Of The Road Cafe Inc.

At the conference, the Mayor told the press that Sisters Of The Road Café was one of her partners. Genny Nelson, Sisters' Director of Community Organizing, has responded to this, saying "The process we have been a partner in was to narrowly define this law to simply address aggressive harassment, and to provide alternative solutions to the revisions to Title 14. Sisters and crossroads have brought and continue to bring creative solutions to the table that come from men and women directly dealing with homelessness." Sisters and crossroads continue to oppose the enactment of a "sit-lie-stand" law.

Some Background:

Title 14 is the section of city code that governs the use public space. Over the past several years, the City Attorney's office began a process of rewriting this section of the city code. This revision was intended only to clarify the language in this code and to bring it into compliance with state law. In January of this year, attorneys from the Oregon Law Center, the ACLU of Oregon, and the Metropolitan Public Defenders objected to 13 of the proposed revisions in Title 14, which they said would "enact numerous new criminal offenses and . . . vastly expand the offenses that already exist." In April 9 more of the revision were opposed by the peoples organization, crossroads.

The most famous of these new criminal offenses is the proposed "Sit/Lie" ordinance. As written, the "Sit/Lie" ordinance made it illegal for a person to stand, sit or lie on a public right of way if that conduct " 'would cause' a pedestrian or other user of 'any part' of the right of way reasonably to take action to move around or avoid" that person. "Because at any time a person stand, sits, or lies on the sidewalk she 'would cause' another using that particular area of the side walk to take action to move around her, the ordinance can be read to permit law enforcement officers to treat, any sitting, lying or standing on public right of way as criminal conduct."

Due to these legal objections and concerns raised by the community, the City Attorney's Office removed most of the objected to measures, including the "sit/lie" ordinance, from the new Title 14 passed last April. These measures will be given separate consideration by the City Council beginning some time this fall. Mayor Katz is now saying that she will not pursue the "sit/lie" measure but instead seems to be relying on the new enforcement guidelines for the "Obstructions as Nuisances" law to create a de facto "sit/lie" ordinance. The new guidelines will go into effect as soon as the Portland Police are prepared to implement them.

homepage: homepage: http://www.sistersoftheroadcafe.org/crossroads.html
phone: phone: 503.228.2543

The New Enforcement Guidlines 16.Aug.2002 18:06

Jamie Manuel

Guidelines For Enforcement of P.C.C. 14A.50.030 (Obstructions As Nuisances)

P.C.C. 14A.50.030

OBSRUCTIONS AS NUISANCES

A. Unless specifically authorized by ordinance, it is unlawful for any person to obstruct any
street or sidewalk, or any part thereof, or to place or cause to be placed, or permit to remain thereon, anything that obstructs or interferes with the normal flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic, or that is in violation of parking lane, zone or meter regulations for motor vehicles. Such an obstruction hereby is declared to be a public nuisance. The City Engineer, the City Traffic Engineer, or the Chief of Police may summarily abate any such obstruction or the obstruction may be abated as set forth in Chapter 29.20.

B. The provisions of this Section do not apply to merchandise in course of receipt or delivery, unless that merchandise is permitted to remain upon a street or sidewalk for a period longer than 2 hours. The vehicle in which merchandise is delivered is subject to all parking regulations as described in Title 16.

Enforcement Guidelines:

1. Members may enforce P.C.C. 14A.50.030 only after giving an offender an opportunity to abate the nuisance caused by their behavior. Once a person has been informed by a Member that a behavior causes an illegal nuisance, any Member can enforce P .C.C. 14A.50.030 against that person without warning or an opportunity to abate the nuisance if the person subsequently engages in that offending behavior, regardless of the amount of time that has passed.

2. Members may enforce P.C.C. l4A.50.030 only against persons engaged in the following behaviors:

a. Any person who, as part of a stationary group, reduces the through pedestrian zone of a sidewalk to a width less than eight feet on a fifteen-foot sidewalk, or to less than six feet on narrower sidewalks.

b. Any person who creates an obstruction or a trip hazard by sitting on a sidewalk or by extending body or limb into a sidewalk. The Bureau seeks to address hazardous conditions caused by people who, by making themselves immobile or a trip hazard, become an obstacle on a sidewalk and are unable to immediately cooperate with their fellow side-walk users in the dynamic accomodations necessary for the efficient and safe use of a sidewalk.

c. Any person who blocks pedestrian access to an information kiosk, water fountain, parking pay center, food cart, trash can, curb cut, ramp, bench, sculpture, paper box, display window, pedestrian walk signal switch or other sidewalk facility or amenity.

d. Any person who places property on a sidewalk and allows the property to be an obstruction or a trip hazard by not remaining in a position to immediately move the belongings to respond to the need of a pedestrian to use the sidewalk. However, P .C.C. 14A.50.030 does not apply to merchandise in the course of lawful receipt or delivery, unless the merchandise remains upon the public right of way for a period longer than two hours.

e. Any person who maneuvers to block the path of another traveling along a sidewalk.

3. Members shall not enforce P.C.C. 14A.50.030 against:

a. A person who is part of a stationary crowd that has formed to participate in or observe an event;

b. A person obstructing or interfering due to factors beyond the person's control.

c. A person who is part of a line waiting for goods or services unless the person refuses to comply with the Member's order to form the line in a way that moderates the impact of the line on passage along the through pedestrian zone.

d. A person who leans against a structure but who is able to immediately move to cooperate with their fellow side-walk users in the dynamic accomodations necessary for the efficient and safe use ofa sidewalk unless the person reduces the through pedestrian zone of a sidewalk to a width less than eight feet on a fifteen-foot sidewalk, or to less than six feet on narrower sidewalks.

e. A person who sits on a structure or a ledge which is elevated above the sidewalk surface, or a step, unless the person reduces the through pedestrian zone of a sidewalk to a width less than eight feet on a fifteen-foot sidewalk, or to less than six
feet on narrower sidewalks.

4. The Street Musician Partnership Agreement exempts covered street musicians from the prohibitions in P.C.C. 14A.50.030.

5. Panhandling, alone, does not violate P .C.C. 14A.50.030.

6. Members may initiate abatement of any sidewalk obstruction nuisance caused by an object by calling the following numbers:

a. Dumpsters and abandoned vehicles: Parking Patrol -823-7309

b. Sidewalk seating and vending carts: Office of Transportation -823-7002

c. Portable signs and A-boards: O.P.D.R. -823-7312 ext. 2

civility 19.Aug.2002 10:15

dizazt0r::blank1t

'clarify the language in this code'

--how about the rest of the municipal code then ;)

'2. Members may enforce P.C.C. l4A.50.030 only against persons engaged in the following behaviors:

a. Any person who, as part of a stationary group, reduces the through pedestrian zone of a sidewalk...

b. Any person who creates an obstruction or a trip hazard by sitting on a sidewalk or by extending body or limb into a sidewalk. The Bureau seeks to address hazardous conditions caused by people who, by making themselves immobile or a trip hazard, become an obstacle on a sidewalk and are unable to immediately cooperate with their fellow side-walk users in the dynamic accomodations necessary for the efficient and safe use of a sidewalk.'

--now looking at section 3a, w/ regards to a protest, one would think that this would apply only to sanctioned protests/rallies. so when we have an "unlawful gathering" it would make it alright for even those Clean & Safe cops--again, they are former police officers as informed of my by one C&S officer Al Rider who reminds me of that LeFours mall cop character in "Mallrats", but anyway--to shoo you away...or shoot you down, either way. they do appear to carry working guns.

sometimes i sleep on the sidewalk and so these guys (they're actually polite, now..until the downtown business interest tells them to "crack down") will politely enough "wake me up"; i appreciate this and i always comply. (as well, i'm "camping" on the sidewalk).

as well, what if there is a group of people conversing right in the middle of the sidewalk (Section 2a)? are the enforcing "Members" going to do anything about this? will bias be introduced? maybe gutter punks and other wretched people would be asked to disperse or move out of the way well before a yuppie crew would be.

civility, it's everyones responsibility! ;P

I don't see the language you are quoting 06.Sep.2003 17:18

Scott Graham

I carefully read the ordinance, and failed to see the language you quote. Perhaps you were quoting another document? I

This is teh quote, it ain't there 06.Sep.2003 17:21

Scott Graham

>The most famous of these new criminal offenses is the proposed "Sit/Lie" ordinance. As written, the "Sit/Lie" ordinance made it illegal for a person to >stand, sit or lie on a public right of way if that conduct " 'would cause' a pedestrian or other user of 'any part' of the right of way reasonably to take >action to move around or avoid" that person.

Never Mind 06.Sep.2003 17:23

Scott Graham

I read the lasr paragraph of your story