CHICO, Calif. - A new "Sit-Lie" ordinance is just a few days away from going into effect in Chico.
It allows officers to cite homeless people for blocking business entrances and using public property as their personal campsite.
The police presence downtown is noticeable, prompting a new trend. The homeless are moving away from the downtown area.
A month ago, you couldn't ignore the homeless population in Chico's downtown city plaza and city hall. Now, it's practically a ghost town.
"They are becoming leery of the enforcement that has been going on and the presence we've had in downtown," said Lieutenant George Laver of the Chico Police Department.
The Chico city council passed a "Sit-Lie" ordinance in November.
Chico police said they're starting to see the homeless stay away from downtown and instead make their way towards the south side of the city.
"The places they are migrating to is down on 20th Street near Toys 'R' Us, the mall, and out on Forest Avenue near Wal-Mart to do their solicitation and their panhandling," said Laver.
One of those people that moved is Tim Brennan.
"I can't be downtown. I live out of my cart with my dog, Maggie May," said Brennan.
Brennan was camped outside the Shell gas station on Forest Avenue Thursday afternoon.
He's been living on the streets of Chico since 2007, and the strong presence of law enforcement downtown forced him to find a new place to live.
"If I'm downtown they'll arrest me," said Brennan.
Brennan said the new ordinance is unfair, and claims he has no other option but the streets. Shoppers at Wal-Mart are starting to notice more homeless people around the area.
"It doesn't bother me much but it bothers me that most of them aren't working or don't have a job," said Wal-Mart shopper, John Nelson.
Neslon travels from Paradise once a month and shops at the Wal-Mart in Chico.
"It's going to happen everywhere. It's hard to get rid of them. I don't know what it would take to get rid of them to be honest with you," said Nelson.
A Wal-Mart employee said that she sees a lot of homeless people sleeping in the bushes around the parking lot.
Chico Police advise anyone experiencing aggressive panhandling to call them at (530) 897-4911.
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