City Resumes Sit-And-Lie Enforcement

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Wednesday, September 7, 2022 at 2:05 p.m.

Enforcement of the City’s sit-and-lie ordinance resumed today in the downtown area with significant capacity currently available in the region’s shelter system.

The sit-and-lie ordinance prohibits sitting or lying on a public sidewalk between 6 am and midnight in an area roughly from Maple to Division streets and Interstate 90 to Spokane Falls Boulevard. The ordinance defines specific prohibitions and exceptions for enforceability, including when shelter space is unavailable.

“We are setting an expectation that individuals take advantage of the opportunities available to them to receive services in a safe, healthy, and humane environment,” Woodward said. “Our downtown needs to be a safe and healthy place for everyone and living on streets, alleyways, viaducts, and fields is not in anyone’s best interest.”

Spokane police began educating individuals last week about the availability of new and existing shelter resources and the eventuality of enforcing existing ordinances. Enforcement will be based on availability the night before or a phone call by officers to the shelter.

“Our first priority is to get individuals connected to services that will help them take their next steps in their homelessness journey,” Woodward said. “Adding the enforcement element presents those who are reluctant to accept help with an option and an opportunity.”

The Trent Resource and Assistance Center opened this week with defined space for men, women, couples, LGBTQ+, and employed who need night-by-night drop-in space. Approximately three dozen people spent the night at the center on Tuesday. Other shelters have consistently had space available this summer.

Separately, the City Council will consider an update to the unauthorized camping ordinance on Monday night. The proposal includes the following updates:

  1. Prohibits camping at all times, regardless of the availability of shelter space, underneath or within 50 feet of any railroad viaduct located within the Spokane Police Department’s Downtown Precinct boundary and within three blocks of any congregate shelter;
  2. Prohibits camping at all times, regardless of the availability of shelter space, anywhere in the City where an officer can document that the activity poses a substantial danger to any person, an immediate threat, and/or an unreasonable risk of harm to public health or safety, or a disruption to vital government services; and
  3. Prohibits camping along the banks of the Spokane River and Latah Creek unless there is no available shelter space.

Sit-and-lie and unauthorized camping are separate City ordinances. An update to the sit-and-lie ordinance is being discussed, but a formal proposal is not currently being considered by the City Council.