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Sit and lie ordinance goes into effect Wednesday in Monterey

Come Wednesday, people won’t be able to sit or loiter in certain places in Monterey. The new city rule was modeled after a similar law in Santa Cruz.

On Monday in Monterey, sitting on the sidewalk was still OK but by Wednesday, you could be facing a citation from police for doing the same.

“They are interfering with my business,” said Joseph Aiello of people who he says are often sitting around outside his jewelry store.

The idea of a sit-lie ordinance has been a long time coming for Aiello and his business. He says that people loitering outside his shop deters potential customers.

“When they see panhandlers out on the street, they feel uncomfortable and therefore, they walk by real fast to get to where they are going,” said Aiello.

Starting Wednesday, between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., officers have the authority to tell people to get up from the sidewalk in downtown, Cannery Row and along Fremont Street.

The first offense is a warning.

“For the next 30 days, that warning stays in effect and if you are found doing it again you get a citation,” Monterey police said.

Officers insist they won’t just be targeting homeless individuals.

“If this is something that is applied and and targets a specific group of people, we’re gonna catch a lot of flack for that,” said Monterey Police Chief Phil Penko. “The application is the key.”

Penko say he hopes his department doesn’t have to write a single ticket even though Aiello says his business, a staple on Alvarado Street for the last 30 years, is in trouble and the loitering isn’t helping.

“The downtown businesses are struggling, struggling to stay in business and it does not help or improve having them always on the street,” said Aiello. “

There are exceptions to this rule -you may sit on the sidewalk if you have a medical emergency, are attending a parade or festival, or you’re in a wheel chair or baby stroller.

Here is the full text of the ordinance:

In response to increased complaints regarding safety concerns created by obstructed sidewalks, the Monterey City Council adopted Monterey City Code 32-6.2. This ordinance, which goes into effect October 1, 2014, prohibits sitting or lying down on the sidewalk in front of property designated on the General Plan map for mixed use areas (see map) between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 pm.

The ordinance contains exceptions for people: (1) experiencing a medical emergency, (2) using a wheelchair or other device for mobility; (3) for people sitting on a public bench or bus stop; (4) operating or patronizing a commercial establishment conducted on the public sidewalk pursuant to an encroachment permit (e.g., a sidewalk caf); (5) participating in or attending a parade, etc. with an event permit or other applicable permit; and (6) a child seated in a stroller. It also requires that no person will be cited without first being given a warning by a peace officer that he/she is violating this section. One warning given by a peace officer is sufficient for a 30 day period for subsequent violations.

Police officers have been actively working to inform people in the designated business districts.

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