Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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East Austin neighborhood groups ask city to expand ‘sit and lie’

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TWC News: East Austin neighborhood groups ask city to expand ‘sit and lie’
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The secret is out. People are moving to East Austin, and while new neighbors are moving in, some old problems haven’t changed.

Jessie Scott lives a couple of blocks away from the 12th Street and Chicon area--a place police know as an open air drug market. Scott says she has been approached by drug dealers.

"I had one episode up where I took my car up on 12th because I had a light out and walking back to pick it up, everybody was trying to sell me drugs," East Austin resident Jessie Scott said.

"It didn't matter which street, whether I picked 11th, the alley or 12th,” Scott said. “There were people on every single street and they all were, 'What do you want? What do you want? What do you want?'"

Now, six east side neighborhood associations are trying to stop the illegal activity by extending the “sit and lie” ordinance to areas east of downtown.

The measure, designed to curb loitering in places police deem a nuisance, suspected of criminal activity, is now in play in the downtown area.

Sam Cole with the nonprofit Impossible Austin, geared to help people with drug and alcohol addiction, says "sit and lie" doesn't help anyone stand on their own.

"When you have ordinances like that, you're pushing people this way and you're pushing people that way, basically brushing it onto your neighbor," Cole said.

For others, the city has to do something.

"When you get back down to the community and people both bending together, that's really a wonderful thing," Scott said.

The "sit and lie" proposal by the neighborhood associations is now before the Public Safety Commission. It would then could go before the city council for a vote.

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