Salem City Council removes "sit-lie" from sidewalk ordinance

Sunday, November 24, 2019

11/26/19 Update:

On Monday November 25, Salem City Council approved the “sidewalk behavior” ordinance without the “sit-lie” element. Essentially, the ordinance has been narrowed to ban camping on sidewalks or public spaces, and restricts leaving personal items unattended for more than 24 hours. 

In addition to our coalition letter submitted last week, we attended the public meeting last night and provided testimony, along with around 40 others who spoke against the sit-lie measure. It was clear from last night's testimony and discussion, that not only does "sit-lie" not work, it isn't constitutional and it doesn't address the behavioral concerns expressed by business owners. It's also inhumane and discriminatory. 

We’re relieved that the sit-lie component has been removed from the sidewalk ordinance, and we thank City Council for listening to the overwhelming community concern. We remain cautious of what the 24-hour camping and personal items restrictions will mean for our vulnerable community members, and we will continue to work to support safe public spaces for all. 

Salem City Council will have to vote once more to approve the final ordinance next month.

Watch: Public testimony and City Council discussion on Nov. 25

Read: Our letter of opposition to the sit-lie ordinance

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On behalf of the Safe Routes Partnership in the Pacific Northwest, we are working with Salem community partners to stop Salem’s sit-lie “sidewalk behavior” ordinance. The ordinance would restrict people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks, and is targeted at our most vulnerable community members experiencing homelessness.

The ordinance before council will force people out of our public spaces, and yet the city’s website says the policy is “not directed at preserving physical pedestrian access or public safety.” With so little assurance that this policy would improve the livability in Salem, accompanied by the statement that the ordinance isn’t meant to improve safety, we question the motives behind this reactionary policy.

Together with Latinos Unidos Siempre, Mano a Mano, PCUN: Farmworkers + Latinx Working Families United , Racial Justice Organizing Committee (RJOC), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, we’ve submitted a joint letter to Salem City Council in opposition to the proposed measure. Read our full letter here.

Please join us in standing against this harmful ordinance. Consider submitting testimony and attending the city council meeting tomorrow 11/25 at 6 PM. Contact Becky with questions.