Salem Passes Sit-Lie Ordinance, Presenting New Challenges for Unsheltered

Monday, February 24, 2020

March 24, 2020 Update:

Salem City Council has adopted a Sit-Lie ordinance that prohibits people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. The ordinance was approved a week after Council’s decision to ban loitering in public spaces during the next 5 weeks to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Sit-Lie ordinance is permanent and has a $250 penalty attached for violators.

In this challenging era of COVID-19 and social distancing, we know that our unsheltered population will be disproportionately impacted. We want everyone to "stay safe and stay home," but for many that is simply not an option, and we're deeply concerned for the additional short-term and long-term challenges this ordinance and penalty will present for our most vulnerable communities. 

Thank you to our partners for standing with us against this harmful policy, and a big thank you to Salem City Councilor Jackie Leung (Ward 4) for her dissenting vote at Monday’s council meeting.

We have opposed the Sit-Lie ordinance since City Council’s earlier attempt in 2019. Read our recent coverage below for more information and links to coalition testimony.


On behalf of the Safe Routes Partnership in the Pacific Northwest, we continue to work with Salem community partners to stop a harmful Sit-Lie ordinance that would restrict people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks, and is targeted at our most vulnerable community members experiencing homelessness. In November 2019 we submitted a coalition letter in opposition and were successful in getting Council to remove the Sit-Lie component from city policy. (Read our earlier coverage)

Unfortunately, City Council is scheduled to reconsider passing Sit-Lie, due to a failed camping ban passed in 2019. We’re joining partners once more, asking Council to vote NO on passing a harmful Sit-Lie ordinance. Our partners include: Latinos Unidos Siempre, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), Mano a Mano, Racial Justice Organizing Committee, American Friends Service Committee and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon.

Our coalition represents agencies working to promote safe and healthy communities for people of all ages, races, disabilities and income-levels, starting with addressing basic needs like access to housing, education, social services and safe transportation options. The proposed Sit-Lie ordinance steepens the uphill battle that vulnerable communities already face in getting their basic needs met, and it pushes them further outside of the greater community,

Read our letter to Salem City Council, and consider submitting your own letter to citycouncil@cityofsalem.net. Salem City Council has requested staff to draft a revised Sit Lie ordinance for passage in early March.

Locations: