SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – City leaders in Sarasota are considering an ordinance that would prohibit people from sitting or lying down on specific sidewalks within the heart of downtown.

Commissioners showed unanimous support for the ordinance during a Monday meeting.

If approved, the ordinance would ban ‘sitting or lying down within public rights-of-ways in pedestrian activity zones’.

The draft ordinance identifies the pedestrian activity zone as the public right-of-way on Main Street between U.S. 41 and U.S. 301, and on Palm Avenue from Cocoanut Avenue to Ringling Boulevard. The current draft lists enforcement hours between 10 a.m. and midnight.

Commissioners tell 8 On Your Side they’ve received a number of complaints tied to the issue of ‘obstructions’ along popular city streets.

“We noticed that during our peak hours, the main commercial corridors were very obstructed. This will be another tool for our police officers to enforce and ensure that we can get through from ‘point A’ to ‘point B’ without being obstructed in the City of Sarasota,” said Mayor Erik Arroyo.

Some argue the ordinance targets the homeless population and criminalized homelessness.

“Citations and court appearances and fines and fees and things like that are just barriers to the homeless,” said Cathy Bryant with Streets of Paradise. “This will force people into a space with more barriers. It is always very discouraging because clearly, the homeless population is going to be the most affected by this ordinance,” she continued.

Commissioner Hagen Brody disputes claims that the ordinance targets the homeless population.

“First of all, we have more services than any community in our region for folks that are in those types of a tough situation and want to get themselves out of that situation. Second of all, this is not targeting them,” said Commissioner Brody. “It is really a loitering issue that we have. We are a very passionate and sympathetic city when it comes to those types of issues, but we also have to look out for our mom and pops and our small business owners that are trying to make a living,” he continued.

On Monday, the City Commission asked the City Attorney to look into possibly expanding the pedestrian activity zone and the hours of enforcement. An updated draft of the ordinance will come back to the commission for consideration at a second public hearing. A date for that hearing has not been announced.