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Everett “no sit­–no lie” proposal to ban camping on sidewalks along Smith Street under fire

EVERETT — Dozens of people called on the City Council last week to not go forward with a “no sit-no lie” zone near the Everett Gospel Mission under the accusation this criminalizes homelessness.
Last month, the City Council voted 5-2 to mandate a “no sit-no lie” rule be in place before the city erects its Pallet homeless shelter program. The City Council could vote it into law March 17. If the no sit-no lie doesn’t get approved there, then as it stands the Pallet Shelter plan might be dismantled.
The city’s proposed “no sit-no lie rule” bans resting in public spaces within a narrow area along Smith Avenue by the Everett Gospel Mission. It also has a clause requiring that Good Samaritans get a permit before providing food or aid to people in this area.
The mandate came to be from concerns from a few council members that nearby businesses are impacted by homeless individuals and a no sit-no lie rule mitigates this.
Councilwoman Liz Vogeli wants the mandate extinguished, and hopes one of the five council members who voted “yes” in February will ask for the matter to be revoted. She is disallowed from calling a revote herself because only the councilmembers who voted “yes” before can ask.
A subset of homeless advocacy groups takes issue with being potentially blocked from giving direct aid to people. City lawyers counter that people can continue giving aid after obtaining a city permit.
The “no sit-no lie” rule would not lead to immediate arrest. People would be warned by police to move out of the area of the no-sit zone, city attorney David Hall said. People who ignore the warning could be arrested.
The “no sit-no lie” zone would be from Pacific Avenue to 41st Street and run from Broadway east to the railroad tracks, from a boundary areas map.
City lawyers believe this should stand up in court because it only sets a zone in a small section of town.
The council only set a requirement that the city has the rule on the books to be able to run the Pallet Shelter program; it’s not clear what would happen to the Pallet Shelter program if it’s started and later on a judge overturned the proposed “no sit-no lie” rule. The council didn’t set a penalty if “no sit-no lie” is overturned by a judge. (The council came to this result after making many edits to what they were voting on before taking the vote.)
People who are housed are seen mingling in the area as well. Some City Council members defended the rule as a way to push away housed people who try to sell drugs to anybody willing to take the offer.
Members of the public called the rule “not only cruel, but ableist,” as one woman said, called it dehumanizing, and said it will create more police interactions.
It will be “pushing people with no good reason,” said David Wiley, who ran for state Representative last fall.
And giving aid is going to be treated as a criminal act “with no respect to my freedom to do expressive acts,” Luisana Hernandez said.
“Sitting on a sidewalk is a necessity when you have nowhere else to sit,” Holly Strack of Everett told the council.
A couple of residents in the new Riverfront Development also submitted written concerns that homeless people who set tents at Smith Street would relocate across the railroad tracks into the wetlands near their neighborhood.
The council received more than 50 written comments and heard about one-dozen verbal comments against the “no sit-no lie” idea.
The city wants to install 20 individual shelter cabins on land behind the Everett Gospel Mission. They would be for people experiencing homelessness who are referred there by the Everett Police Department’s community outreach team of officers and embedded social workers. The city has hoped to get the Pallet Shelter program started by June and to have it run as a 13-month pilot.

Previous coverage:

Homeless tent ban attached to Pallet Shelter plan

EVERETT — The City Council approved taking a $1 million grant to move ahead on the Pallet Shelter program. It also added a condition that the city needs to create a “no sit-no lie” rule that makes it illegal to lay down or pitch a tent in a specific boundary area.

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