Chico sit-lie hardly used, police say it's effective

CHICO, Calif. - The Chico city council Tuesday night heard a brief six-month review of the city's sit-lie ordinance, and although the numbers of warnings and citations are small, police say the fact that it is on the books gives it teeth.

Chico's sit-lie ordinance, passed in December of last year, prohibits people from sitting or lying on city sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

The rule was put into effect to give police a tool that would allow them to move along so-called "anti-social" type people, who businesses - particularly downtown - see as driving customers away.

According to numbers released by the Chico police department, since the first of the year, the sit-lie ordinance has only been used to issue 13 warnings and one citation.

Lieutenant David Britt, who presented the numbers to the city council Tuesday night, says while the numbers may be small the fact that the ordinance exists at all may be contributing to fewer people violating it at all.

"Part of the effectiveness of this tool - this ordinance - is simply in the population that would be violating it knowing that it exists - the deterrent factor," Britt said. "To that degree we have seen some success and the reduction of the numbers of these types of calls, just because the ordinance is in place and it's well known."

Although the police department delivered to the council the report they asked for, they say they want more information that will better inform them on whether the ordinance is working.

The city council members ordered the department to return in six months for another review of the ordinance, at which point they will combine sit-lie numbers with urban camping code violations to try and paint a better picture.

On another agenda item, the council voted in favor of an effort to install "smart meters" for downtown parking, which would allow drivers to use credit or debit cards instead of having to pay with cash.

Cost for the meters and a timeline for if and when they would be installed is still up in the air.

Most Popular

Pictures In the News