City council evaluates Youngstown’s proposed anti-loitering law

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Youngstown City Council met Wednesday evening to discuss a proposed anti-loitering law, which will now go to its third and final reading.

In June, Mayor John McNally proposed the law that, if passed, would prevent people from drinking, loitering and sleeping on the sidewalks downtown.

“We want to make sure we have a safe downtown. That’s the primary goal of the ordinance,” said Law Director Martin Hume.

After much scrutiny and advice from Hume, council voted to take another look at the anti-loitering ordinance before making it law throughout Youngstown.

“Obviously we don’t want to do anything that’s going to violate anyone’s constitutional rights, but we certainly have the right to make sure downtown is safe for businesses and pedestrians, anyone going through the area,” Hume said.

The city has been working to revitalize the downtown area, and the law would be another one of its efforts to do so.

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union sent council a letter and put the city on notice. It called the ordinance unconstitutional, and said it was vague in its description and would criminalize a wide range of behaviors.

“Loitering itself is not illegal. It’s loitering plus something else. Loitering plus you’re blocking the sidewalk, loitering plus you’re not allowing someone into a business or blocking a business. Those are the things we do have a right to make illegal,” Hume said.

The mayor said previously that the city did not want to sweep homeless people out of the downtown area and believes that the ordinance would be constitutional. He wanted the law passed on Wednesday but ultimately, that was up to council to decide.

The next special council meeting will be held on August 17 for the third and final reading of the anti-loitering ordinance. It will need six votes to pass and become law.

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