CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - In Charleston, it’s illegal to sit or lie down on a number of streets in the downtown area.
The city now wants stricter penalties for those who break that law.
During Tuesday’s public safety committee meeting, officials discussed adding an amendment to the city’s sit and lie ordinance. The amendment would prohibit anyone caught breaking that law three times from returning to those streets for a period of 60 days.
The ban applies mostly to the King Street and Market Street corridors. It’s in effect from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.
The penalties include a $25 fine for the first offense, and a $50 fine for the second offense.
City officials say some people don’t show up to court or pay the fines, that’s why they want to increase enforcement.
“If somebody is committing the same offense in the same place, multiple times, same offender, we want to create some disincentive for that to occur anymore,” said Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds.
In the past, this type of ordinance has gotten backlash from people who say it's aimed at those who are homeless.
But Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg says they offer programs for those who want help.
“It’s really a two-step approach of being compassionate and trying to be help people,” Tecklenburg said. “But for those who need some help, but for whatever reason they don’t want to accept it, it increases our ability to enforce.”
If the same people are caught back in the district within those 60 days, they would be charged with trespassing.
City officials also proposed making this amendment even stricter by stating that any offense within the district would apply to the three violation rule.
They will be working on those possible changes to the ordinance before it goes to city council.