‘No-sit, no-lie’ sidewalk ordinance pulled from Everett’s agenda

EVERETT — A proposed ordinance that would have prohibited people from sitting or lying down on sidewalks has been pulled from the City Council’s agenda for its meeting Wednesday.

The ordinance would also have prohibited camping or erecting structures such as tents in public rights-of-way along Smith Avenue between the Everett Gospel Mission and Everett Station.

The ordinance, and two others that are still on the agenda, have drawn some criticism from the public, but it was members of the city’s Community Streets Initiative task force that provided the impetus to pull the bill.

“They pulled the no-sit/no-lie ordinance, and that was because we were getting some questions from the task force about what was in it,” said Meghan Pembroke, Everett’s communications director.

The task force last year issued a list of 63 recommendations to help combat the city’s chronic problems with homelessness, mental illness, addiction and public nuisances.

The proposed “no-sit/no-lie” ordinance was not among the recommendations.

Megan Dunn, a task force members who sits on the city’s Human Needs Committee, was resolutely opposed to that specific ordinance.

“I would consider it a violation of our human rights and dignity to not be able to sit or stand or lie down,” Dunn said.

The other two ordinances under consideration Wednesday, to establish an alcohol impact zone and to prohibit panhandling, were on the task force’s list of recommendations, although the inclusion of the panhandling ban also drew dissent from two members, including Dunn.

David Hall, a deputy city attorney who has been leading the city’s efforts to implement the Streets Initiative recommendations, sent an email to the members of the task force Tuesday explaining that the proposed ordinance was intended to prevent a homeless encampment near the mission, which has been recently thinned out, from re-establishing itself there.

The encampment under the I-5 overpass had become dangerous, Hall wrote, with several incidences of assaults and weapons charges, and it was interfering with the regular operations of the mission and nearby businesses.

The city put up fences after dispersing much of a crowd of about 60 people that had been camping near the mission, but smaller numbers have since returned to the area.

“These reasons seemed to us to be consistent with the goals of the Task Force, and in fact I have represented it as such. Obviously, that view is not shared by all,” Hall wrote.

Hall was unable to be reached for comment Tuesday.

Pembroke said the city will continue to discuss the ordinance and answer the task force’s questions before bringing the proposal back to the council.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter:@Chris_At_Herald.

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