Redding City Council Votes Against Sit-Lie Ordinance

Redding City Council members sat up and took notice Tuesday night when speaker after speaker told them to take a seat when it comes to pursuing a sit-lie ordinance that would make it illegal to sit or lie on public sidewalks.

“What part of freedom is not understood with this?” asked Joseph Greydanus. “Liberty is not only for the well-off,” he added to a spattering of applause from a handful of homeless advocates. About a dozen of those in attendance held a rally at the intersection of Civic Center Drive and Cypress Avenue to rally opposition to the ordinance.

“How dare you single out the weak and desperate” he implored, his voice rising to such an extent that Mayor Rick Bosetti felt compelled to ask Greydanus to lower the volume. “You’re getting pretty wound up,” Bosetti cautioned, shortly before Greydanus left the dais after calling the proposed ordinance “a crime against humanity.”

Councilwoman Missy McArthur said she brought the sit-lie ordinance to the council at the behest of the Redding Merchants Crime Watch, the committee of merchants and business owners who are concerned the growing number of panhandlers and loiterers in Redding is turning away customers and tarnishing the city’s image.

“I said I’d bring it forth because the merchants are for it, and then I hear it may be unenforceable. I don’t have a dog in this fight but I want to hear what the community has to say,” McArthur said.

McArthur added that she is eager to address the establishment of a day center for the homeless. Councilwoman Francie Sullivan added her support to the day center concept while also emphasizing that the city lacks the staff and money to serve as the lead agency.

Michael Mojarro, CEO of Living Hope Compassion Ministry, found it ironic the council would mention a day center while considering a sit-lie ordinance. Given the struggles he faced in receiving city permission to expand his ministry’s center in the Parkview neighborhood, Mojarro said any council discussion of a new homeless center was “just lip service.”

While admitting the sit-lie ordinance and Redding’s homeless population in general are polarizing subjects, Redding businessman and developer Brent Weaver said he liked the idea of supporting nonprofits like Living Hope Compassion Ministry and called for “a healthy dialogue.”

Weaver, who has developed three properties in downtown Redding, including a California Street project that is now home to some ex-addicts and formerly homeless people, said the ordinance alone is not enough to deal with the “ever increasing” panhandling in the city.

The Rev. Ann Corrin added her support for a day center but said it needs to be supported by a broad coalition, including the faith community, and can’t be connected to a religious organization.

Pastor Dave Honey, who has spent 16 years working at the Good News Rescue Mission, called the proposed ordinance “more of a band-aid than a solution” and noted that most of those cited under the ordinance would not be able to pay their fines.

City Attorney Rick Duvernay said sit-lie ordinances, which have been adopted in San Francisco and Palo Alto (and is under consideration in Chico), are controversial wherever they’re proposed. He added the city already has laws in place that prohibit obstructing traffic.

Despite receiving emails that ran 2-to-1 in favor of the ordinance, McArthur said public comments, combined with the opinions from Duvernay and Police Chief Robert Paoletti, had her “leaning toward this not being a good idea.”

After spending a good chunk of the last three months in South City Park to spearhead improvements to Tiger Field (home of the Colt 45s, the summer-league baseball team for college players that Bosetti coaches), the mayor joined his council colleagues in withholding support for the ordinance. “It is going to take a community effort,” Bosetti said.

A motion to shelve the sit-lie ordinance was passed with a unanimous vote.

Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at
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26 Responses

  1. Avatar Handouts Don't says:


    All a bunch of cowards!

    Here the COR had a chance. An opportunity to make our Redding a better place for everyone AND THEY BLEW IT!

    Shame on you COR!

  2. Candace Brown Candace Brown says:

    Jon, nice coverage on the meeting!

  3. Avatar Sam Allen says:

    I would like to thank the people in support of a solution for our new urban problems. I feel like we have come from a town with a few problems to a city with bigger problems that we struggle to solve. Lack of funding in all areas, lack of compassion, lack of jobs, we can go on and on. But really, what about baby steps? Is there not one tiny problem that can be solved or are there just to many and we just give in and give up? I went to the council meeting and felt like we were held hostage by a few folks that were more interested in attention for themselves than for helping solve any problems. Perhaps the structure of the meetings need a facelift in order to proceed as a city not just a small town with growing issues. What will the folks on the street do when the people that give and give finally run out of money and compassion? If they could show us a little respect for what we do for them, maybe it would make our hearts softer. For's back in the trenches because some of us choose accountability.

  4. Avatar Handouts Don't says:

    So what are we doing to attract the more fortunate to Redding?

  5. Avatar Patrecia B. says:

    Despite the fact that the Redding City Council shot down this ill-advised ordinance, I must say that I'm disappointed in all of them. The only councilors who addressed the idea of a day center were Missy McArthur ( who undoubtedly views this as a place where the homeless and other "undesirables" can be herded and kept out of sight during business hours), and Francie Sullivan, who made a point of saying that the City shouldn't be expected to devote any funds or staff time to such an endeavor. She also told Rev. Mojarro that the City can't waive any building permits or other fees.

    Where is the compassion on our city council? I've been looking into facilities in Chico (which is comparable to Redding in size, although somewhat smaller), and that city seems to have been able to do so much more for the homeless and people who are struggling. Thanks largely to the efforts of a Chico City Councilwoman, there is a 2 year 26-unit transitional apartment complex for women and children with an impressive success rate. This is only one of several similar facilities in Chico, along with a day center and various shelters that serve the whole spectrum of the homeless. It even has a shelter and transitional housing for aged-out foster youth and other young people.

    We need far more than a day center, but it's a start. And I agree with Rev. Ann Corrin that it needs to not be religion-based, although perhaps for different reasons. You can only go so far with the Rescue Mission-type approach that homelessness is all about drug addiction/criminal behavior, and that just "coming to God" will solve all the problems. We need something that addresses the economic realities of homelessness, and that focuses on people who can actually benefit from that help. There are already enough places in this area for substance abusers and the criminal element – to the near exclusion of anything else.

    The Redding City Council has thrown nearly insurmountable obstacles into the path of any group of citizens who would like to create a homeless facility, including the requirement that anyone operating such a facility must have had at least two years' experience running an identical facility elsewhere in California. What are the chances of that? This requirement alone pretty much eliminates the possibility of a local group doing anything in this regard.

    The community can do this – at least if City officials will get out of its way. If the community put the same amount of time and effort into creating a day center as it devoted to building the Mission's new "men's dormitory" for state prison parolees (which was actually sanctioned by local officials because – among other reasons – it was just an expansion of an existing facility , although it does little to fill local needs) we'd have it made.

  6. Avatar Handouts Don't says:

    The Correct Way To Run A Homeless Shelter

    Once again, here is my patented, compassionate way to run a homeless program or shelter.

    This is a sample schedule.

    5:00 am – Wake Up

    5:00 am – Cold Shower, Personal Grooming, Etc.

    5:30 am – Put Away Personal Affects Into Locked Lockers Or Storage

    6:00 am – Cold Breakfast

    6:30 am – Inspirational Talk About How Everyone Is Responsible For Their Own Lot In Life And Their Own Personal Fate

    7:00 am – Shelter Closes For Day

    7:00 am – Bus To Take Homeless To Look For Jobs

    7:00 am – Cold Sandwich, Fruit And Bottle Of Water Sac Lunch

    8:00 am – Shelter Staff Checks To Make Sure Shelter Residence Are Indeed Applying For Jobs. If Lies, Then Permanent Ban From The Program.

    5:00 pm – Shelter Opens. To Quality For Shelter, You Must Present At Least 5 Job Applications

    5:00pm – Setup Beds For The Night

    5:30pm – Cold Dinner

    6:00pm – Work On Job Applications. Staff Available To Help With Mock Interviews, Etc.

    8:00pm – Press And Iron Job Hunting Clothes For Next Day

    8:30pm – Inspirational Speaker Talks About Taking Responsibility For One Self

    9:00pm – Lights Out

    Television, Radios, iPods, Etc. not allowed.

    This folks is how you run a shelter!

  7. James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

    I apologize for introducing practicality into this discussion, but Dave Honey is right; the ordinance is unenforceable. Putting unenforceable ordinances in the city code just mucks it up, making it harder to understand and enforce.

    We have a big problem, alright, and it's very complex. A great many of the homeless are simply lazy criminals with drug and alcohol problems. However, many others are mentally ill, or physically unemployable in the private sector. What those folks need is productive work to do that is within their capacities. This might be a challenge, but would put us on track to move away from a welfare system that has proven to be expensive for the taxpayers and degrading for the recipients.

  8. Avatar Charles Dethero says:

    Tax money is already being spent on numerous social programs to assist the unfortunate; and it has for years (the great society). It just does not seem that the money spent is accomplishing anything since there are still homeless, unemployeed, poor, etc.. So, there needs to be a more effecient means of helping (in this case, spending tax dollars) to deliver the homeless, poor, etc. out of the grasps of poverty. The current solution just is not working; cities and states need to find a way to help those in need to help themselves. America has been through this before during the Great Depression. The difference between now and then is that people worked for government dollars, food, and benefits. We need to do the same. For example, there is plenty of work in the foothills, oak woodlands, and forests clearing brush and woody debris so that wildfires do not burn as intense; so, start the Conservation Corps camps and spread them throughout the wildlands, providing people with jobs, a place to stay, eat, shower, etc., and reduce the fire danger around the northstate. Some will work hard, some probably not so hard, but they will all be doing something to earn a living and they will have a place to stay as well. They can start with camps close to towns and expand from there.

  9. Avatar pmarshall says:

    I agree with all that Pamela had to say. Yes, our homeless problem lies with many other factors, none if which seems to be solveable bu just our Council. I am wondering if this isn't just like the early, thirties? One thing that has occurred, more and more population brings more and more problems. Yes, Ronald Regan did close hospitals, and no, we haven't figured it out yet!

  10. Avatar pmarshall says:

    I agree with all that Pamela had to say. Yes, our homeless problem lies with many other factors, none if which seems to be solveable by just our Council. I am wondering if this isn't just like the early, thirties? One thing that has occurred, more and more population brings more and more problems. Yes, Ronald Regan did close hospitals, and no, we haven't figured it out yet!

  11. Avatar Brian G says:

    We have enough laws on the books to keep this problem handled. Loitering, public nuisance, drunk in public etc etc… More laws are not the answer. Personal responsibility is. I own a business down town and deal with this daily. I have cards directing people to the mission and even have to get tough and chase sleepers away. It is part of my job. Occasionally I have called the police but that has been only 2 in 4 years. Government is not the answer. More laws passed when we are not even keeping the ones on the books enforced may make people think that we are doing something but i does nothing but create more paper work and less liberties…