City Won't Try to Revive Sit-Lie Law This Year

Mayor Charlie Hales' office says the City of Portland is abandoning any effort to revive the sit-lie law in Salem during the February legislative session.

"We are not taking a sidewalk ordinance to the legislature in 2014," says Hales' spokesman Dana Haynes. "We're not ready. And it's just such a high hurdle that we're not going to try it."

Hales spent the summer sweeping homeless camps from city sidewalks. He wants more authority to regulate downtown camping and panhandling.

In November, draft copies of the city's state legislative agenda obtained by WW showed Portland planned to lobby at the February special session for authority to "manage sidewalk use and safety"—code words for a revival of sit-lie laws.

The Oregonian reported last month that Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) was preparing to sponsor the bill.

A similar bill, backed by the Portland Business Alliance, died last May in a Senate committee.

Then-Mayor Tom Potter pushed through a city ordinance in 2007 that outlawed sitting or lying on the sidewalk from 7 am to 9 pm. A judge later ruled the sit-lie ordinance violated the Oregon Constitution and conflicted with state laws. 

Haynes says the mayor has decided another attempt in the brief February legislative session would be fruitless.

"We're going to see what powers we have inside the city to look at our sidewalk maintenance," Haynes says, "spend a year making sure we're doing all of that right, and talk to our legislators and see if we can find some consensus."