CHICO, Calif. - The first day of Chico's new sit-lie ordinance started with a whimper Friday. The new ordinance took effect December 20, but there was no immediate impact evident.
Due to staffing issues. no officers were seen downtown where many businesses hope the new ordinance will clear the sidewalks of transients and homeless. People can be ticketed for sitting on the sidewalk or blocking entrances to businesses.
After a rather heated debate over several months, the city council approved the ordinance. Chico Police Lt. David Britt said officers will use the new ordinance only when they feel it's absolutely necessary.
"Is it solving the problem? Can we take a lower officer-enforcement posture to solve the issue. Or does it need to go to a citation?" said Britt. "It's a judgment call by the officer."
The sit-lie ordinance is a tool that downtown business owners like Anna Simcox, owner of Arts, Etc., strongly support.
"The sit-lie law is needed in this town because we've had bad behavior downtown with transients and others and people who won't cooperate," said Simcox. "The police need an extra tool to move people along."
Even those businesses whose bottom lines were unaffected by transients said the sit-lie law might make downtown more appealing for shoppers.