Monday, December 16, 2013

Council passes sit-lie changes, postpones ombudsman vote

Posted By on Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 11:40 PM

In their last meeting of the year and on one of the biggest issues at City Hall in recent months, the Spokane City Council deferred Monday night.

Action on a tentative police contract and an ordinance outlining a new plan for police oversight will be postponed until Feb. 3. Read some of the background on this complex issue here and here.

In the other controversial issue of the night, and after extensive public testimony, the council voted 4-3 to extend the hours during which it's illegal to sit or lie on downtown sidewalks.

Splitting along conservative-liberal lines, Council Members Mike Allen, Steve Salvatori, Mike Fagan and Nancy McLaughlin argued that the changes will help address nuisance issues downtown and support business, while members Ben Stuckart, Amber Waldref and Jon Snyder said it was untimely, expensive and potentially illegal. The changes extend the time the ban is in effect from the hours between 7 am and 9 pm to those between 6 am and midnight. The council also amended the law to specify that the ban cannot be enforced when the city's shelters are full.

The changes are the latest in a series of efforts to address concerns about public perceptions of safety downtown.

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