people sitting on curb
People sit in the shade on the first block of East Haley Street on Tuesday afternoon in Santa Barbara.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Joe Smith is a homeless man who lives in his automated chair. 

The chair, however, is broken, so he’s been stuck on East Haley Street near State Street for several days. 

At 63 years old, his body aches and is breaking down. He suffers from pain. 

Soon, Smith won’t be able to hang out in his chair on the 0 block of East Haley, thanks to the Santa Barbara City Council. If law enforcement catches him, they will give him a ticket.

“It’s a bunch of shit,” he said. “They are making up laws that don’t need to be made up.”

The city currently prohibits sitting or lying down on the first 13 blocks of State Street. Now the first block of East Haley Street, between State and Anacapa streets, is included in that ban.  

The council voted 7-0 Tuesday to expand the city ordinance, which cracks down on nuisance crimes, so-called “street behavior” and homeless residents who frequent the area.  

City Attorney Ariel Calonne said the 0 block of East Haley Street suffers from the ongoing problem of people congregating, or individuals sitting or lying down.

Between April 22 and May 22 of this year, police officers filed more than 70 reports and made 33 arrests on that block, for crimes including carrying an open container, illegal lodging and drug possession, according to the city. 

man in wheelchair

Joe Smith, who is homeless, opposes Santa Babara’s new ordinance to ban people from sitting and lying on Haley Street between State and Anacapa streets.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Business owners spoke in favor of the ban.

“This is a very sad issue, but it does tarnish our reputation,” said Ali Ahlstrand, an owner of Mollie’s on State Street and Coast Village Road. “It does give us doubt as to where we live.”

He said the city also needs to find longer-term solutions. 

“We also need to look at where they can go,” Ahlstrand said. “Just taking care of one problem doesn’t necessarily solve the problem, but I think it is a good start.”

Santa Barbara property owner Ray Mahboob said the sit-lie ban should apply to more areas, including Milpas Street and Coast Village Road. 

“I think it is really important that all commercial areas in Santa Barbara are incorporated,” Mahboob said. “We are basically blowing bubbles in the wind. It shouldn’t just be State Street and Haley.”

Calonne said it would be more difficult to enforce a citywide ban on sitting and/or lying on the sidewalks because the city must first prove that homeless people have an alternative place to go. 

“If you wanted to go citywide you would have to have one place where people can rest,” Calonne said.

Santa Barbara City Councilman Oscar Gutierrez asked whether the people on the block had been offered social services to get them off the street. 

“The main perpretrators on that block are service-resistant,” police detective Bryan Jensen said.

Councilwoman Kristen Sneddon supported the ban in conjunction with studying a plan to look at ways to help people on the streets.

“I don’t see this as a district issue,” Sneddon said. “I think downtown belongs to all of us. I just see this as supporting businesses and people who want to go downtown.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at