Sidewalk Sitting Ordinance Passes in Saratoga
Look around Saratoga Springs, and the people you see sitting or lying on the sidewalks are usually the ones who have no place else to go -- people like Donnie Petersimes.
Since TWC News talked to him a month ago, he's gone to rehab to get sober. Donnie decided to speak up at Tuesday night's city council meeting.
"We're not pretty people to look at," he said. "At times we're pretty darn ugly to look at, and sometimes, you know, we say things that we probably shouldn't say."
But Donnie and many others who got up to speak said that's no reason to punish them for sitting down. The public safety commissioner, Chris Mathiesen, argued the new ordinance that prohibits people from sitting or lying on a public sidewalk isn't targeting homeless people.
"This has nothing to do with making any judgements about anybody, about anybody's quality of life," Mathiesen said. "This has to do with physically making sure the sidewalks are free of obstructions."
But the law doesn't target street performers or people outside for special events, and even people in favor of it -- like Madi Dallas, who works at a pet boutique on Broadway -- says it's the homeless who are the problem.
"I had to step around someone that was actually lying down on the sidewalk, a homeless person," Dallas said, "so I think the city should do something to control [it]."
Opponents argue that controlling a certain population of people isn't right. The new ordinance passed 4-1. Mayor Joanne Yepsen voted no, calling the punishment for sitting too harsh.
If someone is ticketed for sitting or lying on the sidewalk - their first offense could be a fine of $50 to $100. Second and third offenses could include jail time.