testimony from housed woman about the sit/lie ordinance aka sidewalk management

Posted: June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

This complete testimony is being submitted to clear up any confusion bloggers may have about the sit/lie complaint that a mom spoke to city council about on June 22.

Good morning, Mr. Mayor and members of city council. My name is Crystal Vaughan. I am here to express my concerns about Portland’s sit/lie ordinance which I first was made aware of two weeks ago on June 9th, 2011.
My three year old son and I decided to attend the rose festival fair and watch the military ships arrive. We traveled by Max train and took the stroller. Five exhausting hours later we decided to start for home. I pushed my son in his stroller another 1/2 mile to the max stop on 6th street infront of pioneer courthouse. I needed to sit down and the only bench was in use so I sat on a one foot wall infront of the courthouse. I SAT THERE SO AS NOT TO OBSTRUCT PEDESTRIANS AND TO KEEP MY SON AS FAR AWAY FROM THE SPEEDING TRAINS AS POSSIBLE. IT WAS THE SAFEST PLACE TO SIT.
Less than a minute later a police officer sternly approached us and barked “you’re not allowed to sit there!” so I then sat on the sidewalk up against the wall. The officer then yelled “you’re breaking a city ordinance! You are not allowed to sit down!” I feared what would happen if I didn’t comply so I stood until our train arrived.
I have the following concerns regarding the sit/lie ordinance after having read its final draft.
1. It states that the purpose of a sidewalk is to move pedestrians without obstruction yet no where does it mention waiting at a bus or train stop without a place to sit.
2. Only a person’s luggage or deliverable merchandise is considered as not being a public nuisance (obstruction). Does this mean my child in his stroller is a public nuisance? or is my child considered luggage or merchandise?
3. This ordinance states that you must be 8 feet from the frontage line of a building on a sidewalk 10 feet or wider. This would mean my child and I be directly in the path of pedestrians and next to the street with speeding trains and buses.
4. This ordinance places tension between police officers and citizens who have committed no crime or misconduct and who are not obstructing pedestrians.
5. This ordinance does not solve any existing social problem and takes money away from much needed social programs.
6. This ordinance does not allow a person the basic human right to sit down when needed unless its a medical emergency.
For these reasons this ordinance shows a lack of integrity and justification.

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