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Madison mayor proposes banning sleeping on sidewalks

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Madison’s mayor wants to ban sleeping on public sidewalks in the capital city’s downtown area.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports ( ) that Mayor Paul Soglin’s new proposal would ban sleeping and lying on downtown sidewalks, public rights of way or on city office land between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.

According to the proposal, the city has received regular complaints from downtown residents and businesses about people occupying sidewalks and rights of way. The proposal states that people who sleep or lie on the sidewalk are threatening their own safety as well as the safety of pedestrians around them.

Police would give a sleeper a warning before issuing a citation. First-time violators would face a $100 fine. Each subsequent offense within the same year would carry a $250 fine.

The plan is based on ordinances in Portland, Oregon, and Honolulu.

“We’ve looked at what other cities have done and the common agreement is that when people start populating the streets, they shouldn’t have the feeling that they’re walking into someone’s bedroom,” Soglin said. “I think the public is entitled to an alternative.”

Soglin plans to introduce the proposal at a city council meeting on Tuesday. The council last year resoundingly rejected another Soglin proposal to limit the time people could sit or lie on sidewalks, benches or city office property.

Asked about the new proposal’s chances, the mayor said he expects certain council members will react “negatively and hostilely to any proposal that touches on anything that takes responsibility along with compassion.”

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