News Jun 5, 2013 at 4:00 am

Bill's Unceremonious Demise Sends Sidewalk Fight Back to Portland


This issue had the votes. It passed almost unanimously in the House.

What gives?

Sit lie targets the homeless because they are the ones violating it the most. It's like being mad that new finance laws would only target people on Wall Street.

The arguments against sit-lie are weak: there are plenty of places to sit in downtown. They're called parks and benches which Portland has lots of them. There is no need to lay down in the sidewalk. Cafes have pay for permits and have to carry insurance. If someone trips on their chairs, they're covered. If Grandma Sue trips on someone sitting on the ground sprawled out—she's toast.

For those that don't know, sleeping in doorways is still trespassing, as that is private property. There is no legitimate right to do that so it's a non-issue.

This problem needs to be addressed—it's only getting worse.
I agree mostly... which is why it was silly time before last to make the law unconstitutional... and why it was silly this last time to make the law about "disabilities" but only effect people sitting on the sidewalk, not cafe seating... both block right of way for people with disabilities...
you cant call one out and not the other.

The current effort by the PBA is to go back to a law that was ruled unconstitutional by a judge, in a courtroom... how do they do that? change the law to meet their needs...
if that is all that is needed (change the law to meet your needs) then I have several laws I would like changed as well!
Nothing about this current law was about disabilities. It's about reigning in people sitting and laying on the sidewalk which is not about Constitutionally protected speech or these other absurd counter arguments being thrown around. Occupy has already shown us pretty clear what is and is not free speech. Time, place, manner.

And Portland's lack of sidewalk management is an ADA lawsuit waiting to happen on the topic of disabilities...some underpasses are effectively impossible to get through. We have lost control and this committee just blocked a chance to vote on this.

Sidewalk cafes do not block right of way passage under current regulation, and I already explained why it's different that a restaurant be given seating space on the sidewalk versus someone without insurance. Fair is fair, if people want to lay on the sidewalk they need to pay for a permit and have liability insurance then.

Laws change with time and new information, that's the point. Portland's past sit lie was a judgment. Get another judge on another day and it could have been a new ruling.

This is not about the PBA, this issue does have broad support from even liberal minded people trying to grasp at understanding why it's a right to lay about the sidewalk when there's public spaces to do so in Portland on every block almost.

The logic and arguments against this play towards exaggeration and slippery slope.

I've never argued this before but I think sidewalks should be able to be leased to private interests. All proceeds to the city can go towards homeless services, but our situation has become untenable.
get a god dang job and get off the sidewlk ya bums. go ask obama for some change
In the several comments above I read "There is no need to lay down in the sidewalk" and "It's about reigning in people sitting and laying on the sidewalk" (and of course "get a job" [where are they?]). The naiveté of these comments is astounding. While there are always exceptions, most of the 1500+ people sleeping on Portland sidewalks do so because there is nowhere else they can go. Use the parks? The rangers prohibit it at night and discourage it during the day.

Sidewalks should be "leased to private interests"? Shudder.
maybe I was wrong when I went to the monthly pow wows about this law that Amanda Fritz hosted... when I went to the city council meetings about this current law... they always said that the reason that they did not want people sitting on the sidewalk is because someone with a disability may trip over them...
this concept.. .that people who are blind may trip over a person sitting on the sidewalk (who can move out of the way) and NOT trip over a sidewalk cafe sitting on the sidewalk (that can not easily move under it's own power) is utterly moronic... something that only the PBA, or it's ilk would dream up as some how realistic...
The 'Highlights for Children' style illustration should be a contest for what's missing. Mangy dog, tats, forties, menacing much more!
@ Patrick Nolen

I agree that disability issues are definitely part of it. Maybe we're talking over each other here. I am only clarifying that it's not the sole reason.

I think the city's lax enforcement and the possibility of a disabled person not finding their way through a sidewalk is a sue-able offense, and if someone racked up some medical bills from tripping on said sitter, I'd say I can't blame them for doing (again, why restaurants have to have insurance!).
@ Cloud

"Sidewalks should be "leased to private interests"? Shudder."

I thought the same thing but look at it like this: Which method would bring in more revenue to homeless services (a good thing, for the record)? The answer would be leased sidewalks. Some rogue judiciary committee wants to shoot addressing this issue down, what's left in the toolbox? Private security officers asking people pretty please to act nicely?

Or we can continue down the current path of having For Lease signs on every storefront downtown. They should rename downtown to For Lease district—FoLo for short so it can sound like SoMa or SoDo. Soooo urban and edgy.

"most of the 1500+ people sleeping on Portland sidewalks do so because there is nowhere else they can go"

Most sleep in doorways which is private property. This issue is about public property (just for clarification).

At any rate, it is VERY concerning there's so many on the streets as it is, but our city cannot handle the nation's homeless problem. We literally have people in Portland who think they can actually do something about global warming. Not that that's not commendable, just it's purely quixotic and the same can be said of many advocates of the homeless who think we can solve this problem. We can't, let's be honest here.

We should be progressive and provide services and aid, but at some point, we need to realize our limitations and implications of our actions. This is a Federal problem.

Hypothetically, let's say 5,000 homeless people moved to Portland at once. Does that necessarily mean we drop every law on the books and be accommodating to them? Barring a natural disaster, I'd say no. We need to work within our means, and the attrition of livability laws, codes, etc. will not benefit the city, and won't benefit the homeless either. Think along the lines of tax revenue, which the city loses a lot of because of issues like this that do not get addressed.

Downtown Portland should be the place for businesses, tourism, and shopping, but it's not. I have a hard time going there because of obnoxious panhandling and erosion of livability standards other cities seem to understand more about.

The emotion that comes to me is embarrassment. Embarrassment is not the normal emotion someone should have in response to homelessness/panhandling. It should be compassion, but there's too many ne'er-do-wells ruining a lovely urban experience chasing people to shit-hole environments like Beaverton.
maybe something beyond the same homeless problem every other city in America has is the problem with Portland's down town... the Fed says that at any one time there are about 1 million people homeless in the United States... the City of Portland says that we have under 3,000 here... so by gov numbers, that whole "we have a homeless problem" is a straw man...
maybe Downtowns problem is not homeless people?
maybe it is the crappy parking?
maybe it is the fact that you have to drive past 3 shopping malls to go shopping downtown?
maybe it is the fact that they let the PBA figure things out downtown and they are a bunch of hairless apes that cant figure out how to keep a job with the police department led by their band mate, let alone run downtown?

It's easier to park downtown than at Bridgeport Village. Parking is not the issue. Downtown also has biking and transit.
The biggest problem facing many homeless people is having too much idle time on their hands (barring any physical/mental disabilities some may have.) There are no excuses for an able bodied person to be sitting on the sidewalk when they could be filling out job applications. Hop on the Max and go out to the burbs where you'll be more likely to find places with openings. If they don't get motivated to break the cycle of drug/alcohol dependence that they are in then we're just beating the proverbial dead horse. If they're just lazy goodfornuthins, hogtie 'em and put them on the next bus to Boise. Sorry Boise. So many people, in all economic stratas, think they are entitled to everything and blame others for all their problems. We're becoming a nation of babies, expecting others to change our diapers, give us their change, etc. Sit & Lie is just a symptom of a greater problem.
Why don't they just put this on a state or local ballot? I bet it would win. Portlanders are sympathetic, but we don't want to wade through harassing, dreadlocked homophobic idiots to get anywhere downtown.
Seanpdx- That is a good idea
What's needed is some leadership on this issue. Lure the kids off the street to a better place where they would rather be, like a free cannabis club, with pool tables, Internet stations, video games, pin ball machines, and Friday night movies with vending machines full of beer.
I've never seen anyone sleeping in the middle of a sidewalk; never seen someone sleeping on a sidewalk during daylight either for that matter downtown. I love how the people that are for this bill make up stories. Maybe if you dickbags weren't such terrible people; the homeless kids wouldn't bother you so much.

Please wait...

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