Assembly Soon to Revisit Downtown Sidewalk Law

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by Russ Slaten

Original Air Date: September 10, 2012

(ANCHORAGE, AK) - The city banned sitting and laying on sidewalks in downtown Anchorage last December. A couple city assembly members are aiming to revisit the law.

In the wake of homeless protestors last December the Anchorage Assembly supported the mayor in a 7-4 vote to prohibit laying or sitting down on downtown sidewalks from 6 a.m. to midnight on weekdays and until 2:30 a.m. on weekends.

Anchorage Police Department Spokesperson Lt. Dave Parker said the idea of the law is to prevent people from blocking sidewalks to public access due to safety concerns.

"With that ordinance, when officers observe someone in violation of the ordinance, they give a warning, and when they give that warning, so far everyone has complied with the warning. So there have been no arrests on that ordinance yet this year," said Lt. Parker.

Two assembly members who supported the ban, Debbie Ossiander and Dick Traini, now say they want to revisit the issue.

Assembly member Traini, who decided to repeal the sidewalk ban, said the law was meant for other reasons.

"It was aimed at one person when it was passed originally, and we made a mistake by passing it, it's my feeling, this gives us a chance to kind of redo it," said Traini.

Input for tomorrow evening's regular assembly meeting was moved to next meeting which is September 25th. A public hearing along with a vote from the assembly will occur on the 25th, due to a work session scheduled this Friday. The assembly work session will explore all parts of the law.

"Some people use that method of sitting down or standing or laying down as a means of social protest. It's happened many times before, so just let them protest the government if that's what they want to do. It's not a real problem," said Traini.

The assembly will likely hear testimony and vote on the sidewalk ordinance at it's regular meeting on Tuesday the 25th. Even with an assembly majority, the mayor may choose to veto.

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