IC ordinance would address ped mall behavior - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

IC ordinance would address ped mall behavior


Al Muhaymin has lived in Iowa City for four months.

"You come to a state that treats the homeless like we don't' have no rights," he said.

Muhaymin says he works, but hasn't been able to afford a place to live.

He says space is limited in Iowa cCty shelters.  Instead he and his wife have staked out a spot on Iowa City's ped mall.

It's where he eats, works away from the office, and sleeps.

He and his wife aren't alone.  City leaders say a small group of people have stationed themselves and their belongings here for long stretches of time.

The city has heard an increasing amount of complaints from business owners and pedestrians about these people taking up public space, harassing passersby, and even yelling and swearing. 

"Loud, sometimes profane language which is not conducive to an open and inviting area," said Iowa City city manager Tom Markus.

Now the city is considering new rules for here.

If the city council passes a new ordinance, personal items would not be allowed to be left unattended or stored in the public right of way.

Lying down on benches during peak pedestrian hours would be prohibited.

The city would expand the area where people are banned from panhandling, as well.

"Our focus is on behavior, regardless of where that behavior is coming from," Markus said.

Muhaymin says he feels the city is unfairly targeting the homeless population.

"All I want to do is to be treated like anybody else that walks up and down the streets," he said.

Meanwhile, city leaders say it's their responsibility to address a growing community concern.

"I have to be responsive to what the community desires," Markus said.

The city council will take up the issue August 20.

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