Monterey County

Monterey approves rules to keep street dwellers off sidewalks

Monterey city council bans sitting and lying on city streets

MONTEREY, Calif. - Trash, waste, unlicensed dogs and unlawful behavior. Nomadic travelers are becoming more than an eyesore for local businesses, as Monterey city leaders said they are receiving complaints about people sitting or lying down on the city's sidewalks. 

On Tuesday night, Monterey city leaders discussed a possible solution to the problem, finally approving the new ordinance with a 4-1 vote.

It's a law that's already being used in Santa Cruz and the idea is to prohibit sitting or sleeping on some sidewalks during specific hours of the day.

The city of Monterey said homeless individuals aren't really the issue, it's the people who chose to live the traveler lifestyle, who are causing trouble for visitors.

One such street performer is Elliott Mashmeyer. He lives locally and said he agrees and the difference between him and the transients.

"Some of them come here just with an attitude of like, "I'm going to get away with as much as I can and then I'm going to leave this town and there's nothing they can do about it," Mashmeyer said.

The city said Cannery Row and some other downtown areas use private security. 

The city will now prohibit sitting or lying on sidewalks in some commercial areas between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.  Mashmeyer thinks it won't solve the problem.

"You can't just say everybody's gotta stop.  You've gotta regulate it with some kind of organized system.  You can't just run everybody out of town because you're going to get people fighting back like me who are locals," Mashmeyer said.

The rule wouldn't apply to the city's 35 parks, five beaches and more than half of sidewalks.  Mashmeyer thinks a permit system should be created, to keep travelers out but give street performers a chance.

"If they set up where there's a distance between spots where you could busk or vend, and you'd get a city permit that was good for a year," Mashmeyer said.

The city said there are also some other exemptions to the rule, like someone who's having a medical issue or someone using a wheelchair.

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