City council wants police to have power to enforce Sit-Lie ordinances

SPOKANE, Wash. - Sit Lie ordinance vo

Spokane's city council is considering a series of new ordinances that could make the downtown area safer for your family to enjoy.

The proposed changes do everything from outlawing skateboards on sidewalks to banning street kids from loitering outside businesses.

Lately the gathering of shiftless skateboarders and street kids has gotten so bad that people leaving restaurants are getting badgered to hand over their leftovers and Spokane city council members are fed up with the bad behavior.

For whatever reason right now the sidewalk outside the Olive Garden is ground zero for rude, obscenity-shouting young people who have made loitering their full time jobs. The problem, within a frisbee's throw of city hall, hasn't gone unnoticed.

"When I go walking through downtown, and I've made an effort this summer of going and walking around every day, and there are problems. We all agree with that," Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said.

The Olive Garden has even tried pumping out geriatric tunes that only your grandmother would love, but when police roust the ne'er-do-wells their hands are tied by the current ordinance.

"Right now they have a warning so if you warn me that I'm violating the Sit-Lie law you can go 'Oh' and you can move ten feet away and then you have to get a new warning," Stuckart said.

Stuckart wants police to be able to order Sit-Lie violators out of the downtown area and expand enforcement hours from 7 p.m. to well beyond midnight.

"The biggest reason is the downtown area doesn't stop being a destination place at seven o'clock at night. There's a vibrant night life, there's vibrant art scene, we want everybody to feel safe downtown," Spokane Police Sergeant Dan Waters said.

However as police try to keep street kids and transients moving the amended ordinance can't violate their civil rights.

"The Ninth Circuit Court has said unless you can prove that there are always beds available for the homeless it's unconstitutional to pass a law that also bans homelessness in your downtown core," Stuckart explained.

The city council votes on these proposed ordinances next month. By then cooler weather will have chased away some of these problems but having the laws on books will certainly make downtown's next summer a lot more manageable.