Tempe moves ahead with sidewalk sitting ban plan

Posted at 10:53 PM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 00:41:37-05

Lying or sitting on downtown sidewalks in Tempe could, once again, be banned.

The Tempe City Council decided Thursday to move forward with a proposed change to city code that would allow a police officer to give a verbal warning to someone lying or sitting on a downtown sidewalk.

If the person stayed put, the officer could issue civil infraction with a fine of $100, according to the proposal.

Groups of people, some of them homeless, often sit along Mill Avenue, the city’s main commercial street.

That situation in downtown Tempe is an “image issue,” according to Baxby Nye, who was walking his dogs along the street Wednesday night.

“I think they should clean it up,” Nye said of the sidewalk issue.

“They’re trying to make Tempe a nicer place.”

A woman who goes by “Kitten,” found sitting on a sidewalk along Mill Avenue Wednesday night, said her street-side perch is how she survives.

“This is how we eat, this is how we survive,” Kitten said of sitting along the road and holding a sign asking for money.

Sidewalk sitting was banned in downtown Tempe until 2014, when the city began to allow it.

Downtown patrols have since noted a 200 percent increase in people sitting or lying on the sidewalks, city documents show. Complaints also started to come in from the business community.

The first of two public hearings is scheduled for March 17.