Monday, June 27, 2011

Portland: How not to enforce sit-lie law

This may not be much consolation, but cops---and city officials---in Portland are apparently a lot dumber than they are in San Francisco. Thanks to Jack Bog's Blog for the link:

Portland mom complains about sidewalk restrictions, city commissioners offer tepid response

Beth Slovic
The Oregonian
June 22, 2011

One of the frequent criticisms of Portland's controversial sit-lie ordinance---a city rule that prohibits sitting or lying in certain parts of certain sidewalks---is that it targets homeless people in Portland.

So when Crystal Vaughan, a 45-year-old mother of a 3-year-old boy from Southeast Portland, told the story of her experience with the city's sit-lie ordinance, the response from one Portland city commissioner and Mayor Sam Adams surprised her.

As Vaughan tells the story, she spent much of Thursday, June 9 enjoying the Portland Rose Festival. By 6 p.m., she was so exhausted she and her son headed for the MAX train on Southwest 6th Avenue. And when she saw that a nearby bench already had occupants, she sat instead on the wall next to Pioneer Courthouse. Her son slept in his stroller, she said.

But, according to Vaughan, a Portland police officer then barked at her for sitting on the wall. When she moved to the sidewalk, he barked at her again. So Vaughan moved again and didn't get a citation, as might have happened under the rules of sit-lie.

The city rules about sidewalk use downtown say it is possible to sit on city sidewalks outside of the 6- to 8-foot no-sitting zone. "I don't always bring my measuring tape with me when I sit," Vaughan told city commissioners during public testimony this morning.

Crystal Vaughan before Portland City Council on Wednesday, June 22. "This ordinance shows a lack of integrity," Vaughan said of Portland's sidewalk restrictions known as sit-lie.

Adams' response was direct. "That is the place we don't allow people to sit," he said of Vaughan's choice for a resting spot.

But Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who played a large role in crafting the latest version of the ordinance, took Vaughan's complaint and turned it into praise for the rules. "Your testimony shows it is evenly enforced," Fritz said.

Vaughan later called both of their responses dismissive and unexpected...



At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you saying the law should be selectively enforced?

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I'm saying that it shouldn't be enforced in a moronic way, like the Portland incident. A mother with small child in a stroller shouldn't be harassed while she waits for a bus.

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what if she smells and has dreadlocks?

At 4:38 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Then of course she should be taken into custody.


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