By Brenda Konkel — Passed unanimously.
Dane Dems Local Resolution: Oppose the “Bench Ordinance” and support efforts to end Homelessness
WHEREAS, new ordinances have been proposed for the City of Madison that would, for most of the day and night, broadly limit access to downtown public benches for a maximum of one hour, as well as prohibit lying on benches. The ordinances would also prohibit sitting or lying on sidewalks, steps, walls, and some city land in those same areas and similar times; and
WHEREAS, the intended goal of the ordinances is to discourage usage by a small number of individuals who are perceived to be disruptive; and
WHEREAS, the ordinances will burden many individuals who cause no trouble but struggle without access to permanent shelter and security; and
WHEREAS, excessive criminalization has been recognized as a major contributor to inequitable outcomes with justice, especially for matters of race and class; and
WHEREAS, experience with similar ordinances in San Francisco has been that nearly all of the citations issued were to repeat violators of the law, and more than half were issued to just four individuals. Repeatedly fining and arresting of these handful of individuals, who are often chronically homeless and have significant health conditions, did not result in significant behavioral changes;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, The Democratic Party of Dane County calls on the City of Madison to set aside the proposed new ordinances; and
RESOLVED; The Democratic Party of Dane County calls on City Committees and the Common Council to spend their time discussing more effective strategies for reducing homelessness in place of debating these proposed ordinances; and
RESOLVED The Democratic Party of Dane County renews its 2013 Resolution calling for the swift opening of a daytime shelter and service hub for homeless residents, and expands that call to urge the City of Madison and Dane County to work together in opening a comprehensive service center while we work to fully implement a Housing First strategy and fully realize the Zero 2016 campaign to end veterans homelessness by the end of 2015 and chronic homelessness by the end of 2016.