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Jury is out on Chico's 'sit-lie' ordinance effects

Published On: Feb 20 2014 01:52:07 AM CST
Chico's 'sit-lie' seeing zero citations so far
CHICO, Calif. -

Chico's controversial "sit-lie" or "civil sidewalks" ordinance has been in place for about two months and if the number of citations handed out are any indicator it's doing the trick, but they may not tell the whole story.

The ordinance was approved in November of last year and has been in effect since December.

It prohibits sitting or lying on sidewalks, curbs or streets between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

At the time it was passed, city councilors said it was a tool for police to curb what they call "anti-social" behavior downtown.

Since it's been in effect, officers have handed out as many as a dozen warnings but no citations.

Lieutenant David Britt with the Chico Police Department says that's a good sign, but the winter months typically drive people indoors and out of Chico altogether so it may not paint the whole picture.

"So far we haven't had a repeat offender that we've had to end up citing. So, I'd say successful on the side that they're moving along and they're not repeating the act," said Lt. Britt. "I think we really won't have a good feel for that until the weather warms up and we see what we're like in those spring and summer months."

If a person is cited they face a $100 fine for the first offense with fines increasing a hundred dollars for each subsequent offense within a given year.

Lieutenant Britt also says the aim of the ordinance isn't to hand out a bunch of fines.

Instead, they hope to use it like they've used the city's camping ordinance, by letting offenders know what they're doing is actually wrong with that alone keeping them from doing it in the future.