What's the Difference Between Homeless Crackdown and 'Camping Out' for a New iPhone?


The City of Spokane is currently embroiled in a debate that is very familiar to Boiseans: ticketing individuals who are camped out on city streets.

The Boise City Council just this past week updated the city's ordinance that allows Boise Police to crack down on individuals, primarily homeless, as part of Boise's so-called "anti-camping" ordinance. Simply put, if there are beds available at local shelters, that clears the way for law enforcement to warn and/or ticket individuals who choose to sleep on the streets.

Meanwhile, Spokane residents say a similar ordinance in their city doesn't reconcile with the recent iPhone 6 phenomenon, which saw scores of individuals camp out on their city streets in anticipation of being among the first to purchase a new phone. But Spokane's "sit and lie" ordinance includes a particular loophole that allows exceptions for people "operating or patronizing a business with permission to occupy the sidewalk."

KREM-TV reports that Spokane's police chief and city council president insist that "the point of the sit and lie ordinance is not to target customers waiting outside of the Apple store to buy a new product. Instead, they said the ordinance was created to help places like Olive Garden trying to get rid of people hanging outside of the business and causing trouble."

But Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub said his city's ordinance is not directed at the homeless. 

"It is directed at people whose activities disrupt everyone to enjoy our downtown," Straub told KREM-TV.