Revision to Kodiak law bans camping, lying on sidewalks

KODIAK — Kodiak officials have passed a revision to an ordinance that targets the city’ homeless population.

The revision approved by the City Council on Thursday prohibits aggressive panhandling and camping, sitting or lying on public sidewalks. The new laws will take effect following a 30-day waiting period, The Kodiak Daily Mirror reported.

City Manager Aimee Kniaziowski said the goal of the changes was to create “constitutionally legitimate language and limit the overbroad statements of our old or our existing code.”

Under the city’s current code, she said, it is difficult for police to respond to reports of public intoxication, intimidating or offensive behavior and people passed out on city sidewalks.

Kniaziowski said she worked with city attorney Tom Klinkner to ensure the new language would not violate a person’s rights by limiting “speech or conduct, because that’s what would be challenged as a constitution protection we all have,” she said.

Offenders will be fined $50 for the first citation, $100 for a second offense and $200 for a third offense. Exemptions to the rule would apply during instances of medical emergency, for people sitting on public chairs or benches and to those sitting within a passenger loading zone for transportation purposes.

Monte Hawver, director of the Brother Francis homeless shelter, agrees with the revision, saying “most of it makes common sense.” But he also said more still needs to be done to get homeless people off city streets and sidewalks, like creating jobs and more affordable housing.

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Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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