EVERETT, Wash. — The Everett City Council passed a controversial ordinance Wednesday night that will prohibit people from sitting or lying on a 10-block stretch of an industrial area in the city.
A growing number of homeless people have set up camp near the Everett Gospel Mission on Smith Avenue. Nearby business owners said there have been constant issues for years.
City officials proposed "pallet houses" to be set up behind the Mission: 20 tiny homes that could house 30 people.
But along with that, the city wanted new rules that ban people from sitting or lying on the sidewalk. The council approved that ordinance Wednesday. Violators face 90 days in jail or a $500 fine.
During public comment before the vote, community members called the ordinance "cruel."
“This actually gives the public permission to hate them,” one community member said.
Another said, "The harmful thing that will happen... is the increase of public discrimination towards the homeless."
But many business owners in the area disagree and said the city must step up to help them.
"The critics of this proposal said the ordinance would be a violation of human rights. My reply to this comment: I could not disagree more,” said one business owner. “Since when is human rights violations having used needles and human waste on my sidewalks? Where are my rights to have a safe, secure workplace?”
Another business owner said, “I support the no sit, no lie, because I need some kind of indication from the city that they will not just let us all fail down here."
Council members also suggested more collaboration between the city and business owners to help address the issues.
The ordinance won’t take effect until the pallet home shelters are made.