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Jan 24, 2014 7:54 PM

Homeless allowed to sleep at park, business owners not happy

TUCSON- After meeting with TPD, city leaders have agreed to allow dozens of homeless people to continue sleeping on a sidewalk near downtown's Veinte de Agosto Park.

The homeless will have to follow two main rules. To sleep on the sidewalk, they'll have to abide by a new boundary line spray painted by a Parks and Recreation crew Friday morning. "As long as they're exercising their First Amendment rights and they keep a minimum of a five foot path for pedestrians, they're allowed to sleep on the sidewalk," says Captain Jim Webb of TPD.

They will also only be able to carry with them one personal bag and one non-alcoholic drink.

The new rules are welcomed by downtown business owners, but they're concerned about the city's decision to continue letting the homeless stay at the park, perhaps indefinitely. "When people are coming into the downtown area that's the first thing they see," says Dominic Moreno.

Moreno owns On a Roll Sushi on Congress Street. He says it all started with the Occupy Tucson movement. That has since died down, however the homeless continue staying at the park. "Within the past two months it has grown in size and that's troubling because the more people, the more problems that might occur," Moreno says.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild says he has heard the complaints from business owners to move the homeless out of the park. "Clearly pressures have come on," Mayor Rothschild says.

But for now he says the homeless can stay in the park, as long as they're following the rules.

"I've always been a believer that part of my job is to enforce the law," Mayor Rothschild says. "I am in a position where if a law needs to change, or someone wants to change the law, we're certainly willing to listen."

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