Tuesday, October 29, 2019

City Staff to Recommend Council Advance Sit-Lie to 2d Reading

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston


City Manager Steve Powers' draft staff report on proposed Ordinance Bill 10-19 (aka Sit-Lie, Jr.) (embedded below), which was obtained through a public records request, recommends that the City Council "conduct first reading...and advance to second reading for enactment." 



The staff recommendation is likely to encourage proponents of the bill, and discourage those who oppose it, many of whom are the target of the proposed ordinance bill, which is supposed to "clean up" public spaces, downtown in particular. 

The staff report purports to summarize the "public outreach and comments" given and received during the course of three City forums, but, in fact, it just summarizes the 43 written comments received at the last "open house" style forum.  Those comments would indicate that community opposition to the ordinance is roughly 3 to 2.  Opposition expressed at the first two forums was substantially higher.  See "City Fumbles Sit Lie Forum", "Sit-Lie Jr Loses at 2d Forum", "City Schedules Sit-Lie Jr Round 3" (for the cartoon version), and "Salem Talks About Sit-Lie: Forum Excerpts" (for a visual podcast of the voices heard at the forums).    

Comment at p. 53
The "for" comments summarized in the report indicate that proponents believe the ordinance will drive people experiencing homelessness out of downtown, thus putting an end to "odors, property damage, urination and defecation, panhandling, litter, and aggressive or threatening interactions."  (See the staff report at page 26.) 

The summary of "against" comments more or less reflects what was said at the first two forums.  (See the staff report at pages 26-27.)  Copies of the comments are attached to the  report, but not all are legible. 
 
Not much new in the rest of the staff report.  It perpetuates the line that police somehow need a "lawful reason" or "lawful opportunity" to contact "individuals in need of services."  (See the end of the summary section on page 2.)  And, it reflects staff's confusion about how the ordinance will be enforced inside Crime Prevention Districts (of which there are two in Salem, one downtown and one north of downtown).  (See the facts and findings section, beginning on page 2 (blue text = edits).) 

The report refers to "Exclusion Zones" and "exclusion waivers", but the ordinance uses the terms "Crime Prevention Districts" (CPDs) and "variances."  Readers are exhorted to examine the language of the ordinance itself and not to rely on the City's interpretations, which have been proven unreliable at times.  See, e.g., Brynelson, T.  "Citizens question legality of Salem council's appointment." (October 24, 2019, Salem Reporter.)

Violations
 
According to the language of the proposed ordinance, a person found sitting or lying on a City sidewalk in violation of the ordinance must first be told s/he is in violation.  The draft staff report states that the suspect will be "encouraged to take advantage of available resources", but there is nothing about that in the ordinance.  If the suspect doesn't move along within a reasonable time (15 to 20 minutes, per Deputy Chief Skip Miller), then police may take enforcement action by issuing a citation to appear in court.  Failure to appear in court at the appointed time can result in an arrest warrant. 

If the violation took place in one of Salem's two CPDs, an exclusion notice is required to be issued (see proposed section 95.830 at page 24 of the staff report).  An exclusion notice is an order to stay out of the CPD for 30 days.  City staff, including the City Attorney and police, said repeatedly at the forums that citations are issued outside a CPD, and "exclusion orders" are issued inside a CPD.  The edits to the draft staff report reflect there is disagreement, or confusion, among staff as to whether an exclusion notice is required when a violation is cited in a CPD.  However, both the proposed ordinance bill (proposed section 95.830 at page 24 of the staff report) and the existing ordinance (SRC Chapter 95.740) state that the person cited "shall be prohibited" from being inside the CPD.  Violations of an exclusion notice can result in immediate arrest for criminal trespass and exclusion for an additional 30 days.  (See proposed section 95.850 at page 22 of the staff report.)

A person who's issued an exclusion order may seek a "variance", which is formal, written permission to travel certain routes within the CPD at certain times for certain purposes.  There is a notable difference in the way the staff report describes the process for seeking a variance and what's described in the ordinance, raising questions about whether current practices comport with the requirements of the ordinance.  (See proposed section 95.840(b) at page 20 of the staff report.)  In any event, a person who violates the terms of a variance is subject to immediate arrest for criminal trespass and "shall have the exclusion extended an additional 30 days."  (See proposed section 95.850 at page 22 of the staff report.)     

The penalties for failure to comply with citations and exclusion notices, often referred to as "collateral effects", typically create additional barriers to accessing housing, employment and social services.  Barriers which, by the way, Salem spends General Fund and federal dollars to remove.

Measuring Success

The draft staff report offers no evidence, assurances or predictions that the proposed ordinance will reduce the incidents of, or complaints about, "odors, property damage, urination and defecation, panhandling, litter, and aggressive or threatening interactions."  Nor does it offer assurances or predictions that the City will not be sued after enactment, and the American Civil Liberties Union and Oregon Law Center are known to be monitoring the situation.  Councilors who support this bill must weigh the likelihood of litigation and the certainty that the ordinance will further stigmatize and oppress the most vulnerable people in our community against...what, exactly?  A vain hope that it will somehow "clean up" downtown and put an end to complaints?  Hasn't happened anywhere else that sit-lie ordinances have been enacted, and Salem's not likely to be any different.

The draft staff report gives councilors no articulable, evidence-based reason for concluding that
sit-lie is likely to do more good than harm.  Council should therefore reject staff recommendation and the ordinance bill, just as they did in 2017.     

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Where Next for Sit-Lie Jr?

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston


The big sit-lie lie: the law will apply equally to everyone
So far, the City's tried to make the case for Sit-Lie, Jr. by obfuscation, deflection and avoidance, emphasizing police compassion and overstating the availability of affordable housing and homeless services.

For the City, the issue is:  Are businesses not worthy of compassion ? Don't we all want the City to be clean and inviting?  That  strategy is providing some degree of cover for those who favor sit-lie, but "don't want to be looked at as evil", as some have put it.  For the most part, however, the strategy is not working.  See "City's Community Forum Plan Falters",  "City to Go Solo with Sit-Lie Jr", and "Sit-Lie Jr. Loses at 2d Forum." 

If the City's hope was that the community would see the ordinance as (to use Tom Hoffert's phrase) a "win" and something they could "get behind", it has failed.  It's also eroding the City's credibility, to the point that some are ready to believe that recent police "sweeps" of established camps near Wallace Marine Park were timed deliberately so as to drive the campers into downtown just as Sit-Lie, Jr. heads to City Council.  For details on the camp clean ups, see Bach, J. and Radnovich, C.  "Recent evictions, police activity could end decades of homeless camps in Wallace Marine Park."  (15 September, 2019, Statesman Journal.)  Also see Brynelson, T. "Police tactics toward homeless under fire as Salem considers new ordinance."  (22 September 2019, Salem Reporter.)  (Note that "sweeps" is a word Lt. Upkes considers inapt, because the intent is not to make arrests.) 

The fact that the community largely oppose sit-lie does not mean it won't be enacted.  As things stand now, it's not a question whether some form of it will pass, but when.  That's because a majority of Council support it -- Bennett, Hoy, Kaser, Lewis, and Nanke.  Hoy and Kaser opposed enactment in 2017.  

So, let's talk about when.  The ordinance bill originally was slated to go before Council on July 22.  It was delayed at Councilor Andersen's request and tentatively rescheduled for September 23, but it was later removed and not rescheduled.  Councilor Hoy said in August that there would probably be a work session, but Councilor Kaser doesn't see the need for one, and, as Councilor Andersen put it, "it's her Ward" (proving that not even the City Council believe it will be applied city-wide).  The ordinance bill is tentatively scheduled for the November 25 meeting -- the week of Thanksgiving.  

Sit-lie would ban bench tents like this one
Now let's talk about what form it might take.  The camping ban bothers people, but Salem has long had a ban on camping or "vagrancy."  The proposed ordinance bill basically replaces the old vagrancy ordinance.  See "DHSTF Misled on Need to Assess Codes" and "Vagrancy Law and Legal Definition" (unconstitutionally vague vagrancy statues have largely been replaced with camping and sidewalk ordinances, which purport to focus on "homeless" people's behavior).

Salem is almost certainly going to want to keep camping on public property illegal (proposed SRC 95.730).  The provisions allowing the City to remove personal property left unattended (proposed SRC 95.740) are a logical extension of proposed SRC 95.730, and so are equally likely to be enacted.  Making it a crime to leave property unattended (proposed SRC 95.740) is new (was not in the 2017 ordinance bill) and could discourage people from claiming items that have been removed.   

But what about the ordinance bill's most controversial bits?  Those that make it illegal (and therefore a crime, not a civil offense) to sit or lie on sidewalks between 7a and 9p (proposed SRC 95.720)?  They're what upset people the most.  Here are some of the reasons why:

  1. Sit-lie targets people experiencing homelessness and trying to live in public spaces.
  2. Sit-lie targets people who rest on sidewalks downtown during the day because it's safer.
  3. Sit-lie ignores the fact that Salem has limited day-shelter for people experiencing homelessness, especially women.  See "City to Go Solo with Sit-Lie Jr." 
  4. Sit-lie ignores the fact that many businesses take up sidewalk space for tables, chairs and unsightly signage, yet expect people experiencing homelessness to give up their space on the sidewalk, even when they are not being disruptive, and even when they have no reasonable alternative.  
  5. Sit-lie drives people experiencing homelessness out of downtown and into less safe areas.
  6. Sit-lie erodes, instead of builds, relationships between people experiencing homelessness and  the broader community.
  7. Sit-lie treats people experiencing homelessness as "the problem."  
  8. Sit-lie sets up the expectation that the police are the answer.
  9. Sit-lie has nothing to do with compassion, balancing, or ensuring public safety. 
  10. Sit-lie has the effect of expelling people experiencing homelessness from public places and infringes on their constitutionally protected liberty interest to be in public places of their choosing under times and conditions when those places are ordinarily available to members of the public.
  11. Sit-lie criminalizes "acts of living" and further stigmatizes homelessness.
  12. Sit-lie is a public policy failure.  See Golgowski, N. and Hobbes, M. "America's Homeless Crisis Inspiring New Acts of Cruelty."  (August 2, 2019, HuffPost.)  (Cookie wall.)  Same story can be found here

Not that any of the above bother the councilors who support the ordinance bill, because they believe "people have to be held accountable" and "people have a lot of unfounded fears" (Kaser), "the problematic pieces have been removed/altered" (Hoy), and it's okay to expel people from public places as a "preventative measure" (Kaser).  For a majority of Council, "separate but equal" appears to remain legitimate public policy.  

Photo courtesy Travel Salem
The City insists that sit-lie is about "behavior", which is a way of distinguishing it from unconstitutionally vague "status" crimes such as vagrancy, referred to above.  But no one really believes that merely sitting or lying on a sidewalk during business hours "threaten[s] the safety and welfare of all pedestrians" (Ordinance Bill Section 2(e)), or reasonably deters people from going about their business (Section 2(f) and (g)).  If these statements were true, downtown would be blighted area, and -- everyone agrees -- it's very far from it.  See "29 Things You Need to Know About Salem Before You Move There" and "Downtown Salem."   

Fear is learned, so can be un-learned
The fact is that sit-lie is not about "holding people accountable."  For what?  Sitting and lying on the sidewalk?  Scaring people?

When Councilor Kaser says that sit-lie is "preventative", she is effectively admitting it's not about behavior, but about preventing behavior.

When Chief Moore says about sit-lie, "We are fooling ourselves if we don't think people are afraid..., whether it's right or whether it’s wrong, because of some of the things they see", he's effectively admitting it's not about behavior. 

The truth is that sit-lie is about prejudice, plain and simple.  The view by some -- by no means all -- that the mere presence of "the homeless" is enough to frighten people away.  The view that  "homeless" people inevitably behave badly, and therefore need to be removed from the area.

Sit-lie is a classic expression of "antipathy based on faulty and inflexible generalization" (Gordon Allport, The Nature of Prejudice, 1954).  Get the homeless out of downtown, they're bad for business -- that's the Chamber Kool-Aid the City Council is drinking.

An easy way to test for an anti-homeless bias is to suggest to a proponent that it lacks any basis in fact.  The typical response will be "here's what happened to me" or to a friend or acquaintance, as if one or two or ten stories proves the general proposition that "homeless" people behave badly, and discrimination against them as a class is not only justified, but somehow necessary.

People who suffer from anti-homeless bias tend to feel they "shouldn't have to deal with" the problems they associate with homelessness.  Their sense of entitlement fills them with righteous indignation that prevents them from working effectively with other sectors of the community to identify and reduce harms.  And, it is these people and attitudes that now appear to hold sway on City Council.    

Bas relief on Council Chamber doors, depicting 1970s stereotypes

No city should enact ordinance provisions based on prejudice.  A law based on prejudice is by definition arbitrary, so it's no answer to say it will be enforced with compassion.  Friendly bike patrol officer Jim Crow is still Jim Crow.

Salem Police Department officials and others have argued that enacting the sit-lie provisions would be an act of compassion (as in, "I have compassion for the downtown business owners").  But only the most contorted thinking would allow one to conclude that a law based on prejudice against an oppressed class of people was ever, in any sense, an act of compassion. 

Law abiding CANDO residents -- all of them -- have a constitutionally protected liberty interest to be in public places of their choosing under times and conditions when those places are ordinarily available to members of the public.  It is fundamentally unfair and un-American to impose what amounts to a business-hours curfew on a class of people just because some people might fear them or what they might do.  Salem should be done with that.

So, where next for Sit-Lie, Jr.?  If there is any councilor left who has not drunk the Chamber Kool-Aid, s/he should propose the following compromise:  direct staff to remove the provisions that make it illegal to sit or lie on sidewalks and bring back an ordinance that includes the camping ban and the rest of it, but stops short of creating any new crimes targeting people experiencing homelessness.  Stops short, in other words, of acting on prejudice.

This wise councilor should also counsel that the City should get serious about its Good Neighbor Partnership work group, which could advise the City how to assist businesses that need to address disruptive behavior in humane, constructive ways, which would include knowing when to call law enforcement and mental health professionals.  Many downtown businesses are already doing this on their own, and this boundary-setting, relationship-building approach is what's going to work best over the long term. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Salem Talks About Sit-Lie: Forum Excerpts

In September 2017, the City Council rejected proposed Ordinance Bill 22-17, which would have banned camping on public property, and prohibited sitting and lying on sidewalks from 7a to 9p. In July 2019, the City proposed to put a virtually identical bill, Ordinance Bill 10-19, back to Council. In response to negative media coverage, the City held three forums to receive public comment on the bill, the last on September 26, 2019.  The voices heard at these forums were curated into a one-hour podcast for Mid Valley Cast.  Still photos were added to the audio to make the "visual podcast" version below, in three parts.






Wednesday, October 16, 2019

10/15/19 Minutes


Members: Jim Griggs, Valerie Freeman
Organizations: Raleigh Kirschman, Jason Ramos, UGM; Mark Bulgin, Isaac’s Room; KayLynn Gesner, Ashley Hamilton, Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, The ARCHES Project
City, County and State Representatives: Cara Kaser, Ward 1 Councilor; Meghan Schreiner, Monica Sandoval, Marion County Parole & Probation
Guests: Cali Ramos, Vanessa Nordyke

The regular meeting of the CANDO Board of Directors was called to order at 6:00 p.m., on Tuesday, October 15, 2019, at the First Christian Church at 685 Marion Street NE, Salem.  The Chair and Secretary-Treasurer were present.  

The agenda and minutes of the September meeting were approved.  

Councilor Kaser reported that the Council would be interviewing three finalists for the vacancy left by Sally Cook’s resignation and on the Salem Main Street Association’s alley-naming project.  She said there had been complaints about break ins in the 600 block of Church Street and questions raised about Healthy Spa, also on Church Street.

In interested citizen comments, Mark Bulgin invited everyone to Isaac’s Room’s annual fundraiser on Isaac’s birthday, October 23, at Mission Mill and KayLynn Gesner invited everyone to participate in the Salem Warming Network.  

The board heard a presentation by Program Director Ashley Hamilton on the work of The ARCHES Project.  Her very informative PowerPoint slides are available by request to the Secretary (CANDOsecretary@Outlook.com).

Michael’s motion to oppose the Congestion Relief Task Force recommendation to close north pedestrian crosswalk at Court and Front Streets passed unanimously.  His amended motion to use communication funds to cover the cost of the Bay Room at the Ike Box for the Good Neighbor Partnership’s January 8 meeting ($32.50) and the cost of printing copies of the Good Neighbor Guide (up to $50) also passed unanimously.

There being no other business before the board, the Chair adjourned the meeting promptly at 7:05 p.m.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

SMSA Survey

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

In September 2019, the Salem Main Street Association conducted a four-question, open-ended answers survey of downtown businesses focused specifically on "issues of homelessness" downtown.  It's not known how many were asked to take the survey.  There were about 20 responses.  Consistent with business owners' comments during Downtown Homeless Solutions Task Force meetings, responses were concerned primarily with debris and potentially hazardous material left on and around the premises.  Satisfaction with police response when called to address disturbances was quite high, with only 8 of 20 respondents identifying the need for a change in City code (specifically a sit lie/camping ban), the apparent rationale being that it would "discourage congregation downtown" and thereby reduce "negative impacts."  Most respondents expressed a willingness to contribute to "effective" programs/resources for people experiencing homelessness downtown.  View the entire survey below.  Notations on the right are the authors'.


Monday, October 14, 2019

CANDO Good Neighbor Guide


Hover over document to make pop-out appear.  Pop-out to download.  Comments, suggestions, corrections welcome, just drop a comment.




Thursday, October 10, 2019

Is That True? Sit-Lie FAQs

By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston

 

City staff at Sit-Lie Forum No. 2

Where did sit-lie start?  Mayor Bennett took office in January 2017, and Salem's first sit-lie ordinance (Ordinance Bill 22-17, "relating to promotion and preservation of safe sidewalks") went to City Council the following fall.  But, Council decided they wanted a task force instead.  This made the Mayor very unhappy.  However, he made the best of it, and tried to get the task force to endorse sit-lie.  Despite best efforts, he was unsuccessful.  So, after a year or so, he decided to give it another go by having the City Manager quietly shop around a revision (Ordinance Bill 10-19 "relating to conduct on sidewalks").  Through this process, sit-lie gained the support of two councilors who had opposed it in 2017 -- enough to get the bill passed.  A vote was scheduled for July 22, 2019, but, after word got out, the bill was hastily pulled from the agenda, and it has not been rescheduled.        

Since then, City officials have been making statements intended to reassure the public that sit-lie is perfectly lawful, necessary, and benign.  This post examines those statements as they relate to the ordinance provisions prohibiting sitting and lying on the sidewalks.  (See our previous blog posts for details on the history of Salem's sit-lie ordinance bills.  Just scroll to the bottom of the blog and select the CANDO Archive topic: "stigma.")

It will keep "sidewalks and other spaces clean."  (City info sheet)  This statement seems to refer to the ordinance provisions that provide for the removal of unattended property, which can be and is currently handled by code enforcement.  It doesn't explain why it's necessary to make sitting and lying on the sidewalk illegal in order to keep public spaces "clean."

People sitting, lying or placing their belongings on the sidewalk prohibit its use.  (Lt. Upkes and other City officials)  If this means they block the sidewalk, then so do allowed uses like cafe tables and signage.  The statement begs the question why allow some blockages of public space and not others.
It gives "police the lawful reason to make contact with people and provide them information on social services." (Deputy Chief Miller and others) For years, police have been contacting people and providing them information on social services without benefit of an ordinance.  No one believes police need an ordinance in order to contact people.

Police "can't do anything" about people blocking the sidewalk unless the person shows the intent of pedestrian interference. (Lt. Upkes and others) If someone truly is blocking the sidewalk or otherwise  behaving in a disruptive manner, police (and providers) can and do make contact, ask for cooperation, and offer services.  In the two years since the first sit-lie ordinance was defeated, the City has made no effort to collect data to show how often, if ever, sidewalks are unintentionally blocked by someone who refuses to cooperate when asked nicely to do so.    

The homeless have alternative locations to go during daylight hours, including the park and city benches, UGM, ARCHES Project, Salvation Army, and other social service agencies.  (Lt. Upkes) The restriction on sitting and lying is year-round, 7a to 9p -- not just "daylight hours."  The Salvation Army offers no day shelter.  UGM, ARCHES and HOAP have limited day shelter hours.  UGM is the only option for weekends and holidays.  There will be times of year and day when the restriction is in force, and yet there is no safe or reasonable alternative to the sidewalk.  

If someone refuses to move along, officers will "give them time."  If the person is still there when the officers return, they will call social service resources.  (Deputy Chief Miller and others)  The ordinance bill doesn't require officers to call social service resources to make sure there is somewhere safe for the person to go before issuing a citation or exclusion, and it does not affirmatively state that no one may be cited/excluded except when s/he has been offered a safe and reasonable alternative place to be. Because the statement has no basis in fact or law, it's just false.

It "won't result in many citations or arrests."  (Deputy Chief Miller and others)  Whether this is a promise or a prediction, it suggests either that police don't intend to enforce, or that they expect a lot of cooperation with enforcement, both of which call into question why the ordinance is even needed.  The statement has no basis in fact or law, so must be considered false.

"A violation is a civil offense."  (City Attorney Dan Atchison)  Most people assume (wrongly) that, if a violation doesn't immediately result in arrest, then it's civil in nature.  However, civil offenses involve violations of administrative matters, whereas criminal offenses arise from ordinances prohibiting certain conduct.  Accordingly, a violation of the ordinance provisions prohibiting sitting, lying or leaving property on a sidewalk unattended would be a low-level criminal offense.  For more on the civil-criminal distinction, see here.

"The problematic pieces [in the 2017 version] have been removed/altered."(Councilor Hoy) Ordinance Bill 10-19 is virtually identical to the 2017 version, which also made sitting and lying on sidewalks between 7a and 9p an infraction, punishable after a warning by a citation or exclusion order, both of which can have collateral effects (i.e., lead to arrest, fines, jail, etc.).  The "problematic pieces" that Hoy identified in the 2017 version have certainly not been removed/altered.

"It does not criminalize homelessness." (Deputy Chief Miller and others) In 2012, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), in partnership with Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), published “Searching out Solutions: Constructive Alternatives to Criminalization”, which outlined “alternatives for communities who implement local measures that criminalize ‘acts of living.’"  In 2014, HUD issued guidance citing a recent report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, “No Safe Place: The Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities”, finding that there had been a significant increase in city-wide bans on camping, loitering, and begging in public areas, which HUD characterized as “effectively criminalizing people’s need to survive” (emphasis in original) and “exacerbat[ing] existing problems.”  Anyone who believes making sitting and lying on sidewalks illegal does not constitute "criminalizing homelessness" is uninformed or outside the mainstream.

"It's much more about the behavior and not...status." (Councilor Hoy) This sounds good, but the ordinance isn't "about the behavior", unless one accepts the City's view that merely sitting or lying on a sidewalk "threaten[s] the safety and welfare of all pedestrians" (Ordinance Bill Section 2(e)), or reasonably deters people from going about their business (Section 2(f) and (g)).  If Hoy had read the ordinance, he would have realized it still targets people of a certain status, those who tend to rest in public areas like sidewalks because they are safer there, aka, "the homeless."
 

"Businesses deserve compassion, too."  (Chief Moore, Deputy Chief Miller and others) This argument is classic "bothsidesism" -- helpful if one wants to make it sound like one is taking the broader view of a controversy, but, in fact, just wants to change the subject.  In this example, rather than talk about what it would take to offer shelter to all the people who need it, the City seeks to change the subject to the woes of downtown business owners, while suggesting, but not actually saying, that "the homeless" are to blame for them.

Those excluded from downtown but need access to services can easily obtain "waivers."  City officials have been very glib about the ease with which excluded persons can obtain and access services with variances.  However, current SRC 95.750 (Variances from Exclusion), which is virtually unchanged in the proposed ordinance bill, describes a much more narrow process that many in need of services are likely to find hard, if not impossible, to navigate successfully.  See here.

It's safe from constitutional challenge.  (Implied in City info sheets)  An ordinance that has the intended effect of expelling people experiencing homelessness from public places and infringes on their constitutionally protected liberty interest to be in public places of their choosing under times and conditions when those places are ordinarily available to members of the public is not safe from a facial constitutional challenge.  But even an ordinance that is safe from a facial challenge still is subject to an "as applied" challenge, e.g., for interference with free speech rights to panhandle or make music.  Willamette Law 1Ls were very interested in sit-lie in 2017, and there is no reason to believe such interest has waned. 

Notably, the City has avoided claiming outright that sit-lie will stabilize or increase economic activity downtown, drive people to services, and have negligible fiscal impact.  However, these claims have been made implicitly and/or unofficially in meetings and forums by city staff and current and former councilors.  Those interested in giving full consideration to these claims might be interested in these research reports:  "Does Sit-Lie Work:  Will Measure S Increase Economic Activity and Increase Services to Homeless People" (Berkeley, CA) and "Understanding the Implications of a Punitive Approach to Homelessness:  A Local Case Study" (Chico, CA).

Ward 1 Councilor Cara Kaser, a self-styled "progressive", says of sit-lie that "People need to be held accountable."  The irony is, of course, that she means only those living in the streets, not City or elected officials like herself who feel it necessary in an election year to cave to the "Do something" pressure of a few downtown business owners.  That the "something" she is proposing to do is neither a proven nor promising practice for addressing the problem, which is homelessness, appears not to matter to her, or to any of the other supporters of sit-lie.  For that they should be held to account.       
  
If there are other statements about sit-lie that readers would like to have examined, please let us know in the comments section.