Nobody is saying that “leaders are ignoring the plight of the homeless,” one of several straw man arguments made by The Signal’s editorial board. Many ARE saying that the City Council is prioritizing the needs of NIMBYs, rather than seriously addressing the causes of homelessness: lack of affordable housing, lack of gainful employment, and lack of access to affordable health care. Additionally, the council seems to be ignorant about the consequences of their actions stemming from the vagueness of the language they passed.
Updates to Title 14 really do leave open the possibility of citing and arresting city residents simply for sitting in public spaces. If, as Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean and Councilman Cameron Smyth contend, “These regulations do not prohibit anyone from sitting or lying down,” or, “These amendments will not criminalize the homeless,” then I suggest they read the amendment they just passed to know what’s in it: “14.06.088 Sitting or Lying in Parks and Public Places Prohibited. A. No person may sit or lie down upon a public sidewalk, street, maintained landscape area, curb, staircase, biking or walking path, or in doorways and entrances to buildings, or upon a blanket, sleeping bag, cardboard box, chair, stool, or any other object placed upon a public sidewalk, street, maintained landscaped area, curb, staircase, biking or walking path, or in doorways and entrances to buildings in any commercial zone.”
If the City Council truly is working in good faith and does not intend to hand out citations or have homeless people arrested, I suggest they update the language again to reflect that. I am running for City Council so that careless mistakes like this will not be made in the future.