The City of Austin’s Public Safety Commission could take action today on a proposal to extend the anti-loitering “No Sit, No Lie” ordinance to the 12th and Chicon area – an area often reputed for drugs and prostitution.
The ordinance bans anyone from sitting or sleeping on streets near businesses, banks, and ATMs. It’s mostly in effect in downtown Austin, but some are urging it expand to the Eastside.
Members of the Blackshear and Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association has been trying to bring No Sit, No Lie east of I-35 since 2005. But neighbors are split on whether it’s the best solution.
Jaynna Sims is a member of the neighborhood association. She voted against the proposal because she’s concerned people will be unfairly targeted based on race or the way they dress. She thinks what they really need is more social services.
“We don’t need to just get rid of the people because the problem is not going to go away,” Sims says. “And so I think that we should be doing something to really resolve the problem and not just push it to another neighborhood.”
Tonia Jones, an organizer for the area Neighborhood Watch, says there needs to be more policing.
“It doesn’t get any easier for the police to do their job. And we do have a very high crime rate in this area,” Jones says. “We are having trouble getting the police over here as it is, so to have people just hanging out doesn’t help.”
Still, Jones says enforcement by itself can only go so far.
“Getting people help – I think that’s what it’s really all about, people getting the right kind of help. Jail isn’t necessarily the solution for everybody. Getting some social work for these people and funding alternative homes and housing for them might be a better solution.”
The city's Public Safety Commission will talk about the ordinance at 4 p.m. this afternoon.