Critics of a proposal to make it illegal for people to sit or lie down in a popular part of Fort Collins are claiming victory after a contentious, two-hour public comment period during the meeting Tuesday night.
The City Council rejected part of an ordinance, which would have made it illegal to sit or lie on an Old Town sidewalk or plaza from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
That left the Colorado chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union cautiously optimistic. “We had certainly been urging city council not to pass any ordinance that made it a crime to sit down on the sidewalk, and we’re glad that the city council has apparently taken out the worst provisions of the ordinance,” said Mark Silverstein, legal director for ACLU Colorado.
The council kept part of the proposed ordinance that would prohibit kneeling or lying down in a restroom, sitting on decorative planters and leaving personal belongings unattended in public areas.
“I understand that this action won’t be completed until it goes before the City Council again in a couple of weeks,” Silverstein said. “We’ll continue to watch this.”
Many Old Town business owners spoke at the meeting, saying that customers don’t feel safe. A group of protesters, meanwhile, gathered before the meeting with signs, including one that read, “Sit Happens.” Council members said the issue is difficult because of differing community values.
The city council will hear a second reading at the March 21 meeting, when they could make further changes.