Charleston increases number of sidewalks under sitting ban

Published: Apr. 9, 2019 at 6:59 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The City of Charleston voted Tuesday night to add more streets to the current law that bans people from sitting down on certain downtown sidewalks.

The original law went into effect back in May when the City of Charleston outlawed sitting down on busy sections of King and North and South Market streets.

“It’s very narrow and there are old people and tourists that have to step around some of the people that purposefully block the road there,” Downtown Charleston resident Joe Clabby said.

For the last year, people have not been allowed to sit down or lie down on King Street between Line and Broad streets. People are also prohibited from sitting on North and South Market Street between King and East Bay streets.

Tuesday night’s change to the ordinance will extend the ban to one block of the side streets that sit off of those current streets.

“When you’ve got people sprawled out in front of stores, it inhibits business,” Downtown Charleston resident Joe Clabby said. “It can be a real problem and I think something should be done.”

A spokesperson for the City of Charleston said the changes, like the original ordinance, are designed to increase public safety by allowing people to walk on sidewalks and not be pushed into streets.

“I shouldn’t be stepping in the street,” Clabby said. “These people should be moving 50 to 100 feet away from there so other people can get by."

The original ordinance generated some controversy when it was first proposed because some people felt the law targeted homeless people.

“They’re trying to criminalize homelessness,” Bryant McCulloh, who lives on the streets in downtown Charleston, said. “That’s the way I look at it. I mean, they’re trying to push us out.”

McCulloh has lived in Charleston for more than 20 years, but he’s been on the streets for about eight months after he lots his job and his home.

Since the first ordinance went into effect in May, police for the City of Charleston have issued only 12 citations for people violating this ordinance.

With Tuesday night’s changes, that number could rise.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” McCulloh said. “I don’t think it’s fair. But I also understand the business owners’ and the city’s point of view also.”

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