City makes it illegal to sit or lie down on sidewalks

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A Colorado city has passed an ordinance that will make it illegal for people to sit or lie down on downtown sidewalks, curbs or in other public areas.

The measure passed with a unanimous 5-0 vote at the May 15 city council meeting in Durango, a small city in southwestern Colorado with a population of approximately 18,500 people.

According to council member Dick White, the ordinance is intended to improve the safety and atmosphere in Durango’s downtown area. The rule prohibits sitting or lying down on sidewalks, curbs, streets, railways, alleys, parking spaces or other publicly owned property for pedestrian or vehicle travel in the downtown area from 7 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. The measure allows people to “rest” on benches, Fox 5 NY reported.

The ordinance was taken up by the city council after numerous complaints were filed by business owners and visitors about people lying in the middle of sidewalks in the downtown business district. One council member felt as if the measure did not go far enough, and contended that the ban should be in effect at all times.

The council couched the rule as a safety measure due to the hazards of navigating around people blocking sidewalks and areas where people drive vehicles. The ordinance specifically addressed concern for the safety of tourists, who are often unfamiliar with the area, leading to an increased risk of accidents.

Exemptions to the ban include people experiencing medical emergencies, those with disabilities, children in strollers or those attending parades, festivals, performances or other special events. Violators of the measure can face fines up to $200.

Business owners spoke in favor of the ordinance prior to the city council’s vote.

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