Council to make final decision on “lying down ordinance”

This will be the third and final reading for the ordinance to prohibit sitting in downtown Aberdeen

The Aberdeen City Council will vote Wednesday on whether to approve two ordinances that restrict people from sitting or lying down in the downtown area and prohibit panhandling in certain situations. This is the third and final reading for both ordinances.

The lying down ordinance aims to discourage homeless people from sleeping and loitering on the sidewalks and in building alcoves. It would allow police officers to order anyone they see sitting or lying down in the city’s Downtown Commercial District to move. This district runs primarily in a rectangle between First Street, South K Street, East State Street, and South F Street. It also extends a couple blocks farther west on Wishkah Street.

The original ordinance was going to prohibit sitting or lying down from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but at the last city council meeting, council members voted six to five in favor of an amendment to lengthen the restriction to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Those who violate the ordinance can be fined up to $50 or assigned community service time if they cannot pay it.

The panhandling ordinance would apply to the entire city, and would ban solicitation at night, and at places such as ATMs, bus stops, and while people are exiting their vehicles. Violating that ordinance would result in a misdemeanor.

Both ordinances have been controversial, with some who attend the council’s meetings saying that they are unconstitutional or target homeless people.

Those who wish to speak to the council can do so during the public comment period at Wednesday’s meeting at 7:15 p.m. in Aberdeen City Hall.