SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL)— In many neighborhoods throughout Sacramento, homeless encampments are blocking sidewalks.

So, Sacramento City Council Member Jeff Harris brought forward an ordinance addressing the problem.

“For a very simple reason, to give all of our citizens, including the homeless, access to our sidewalks for safe passage,” Harris said.

The ordinance makes it illegal to block sidewalks and entrances to buildings. It requires four feet of every city sidewalk to be clear of obstructions.

“It’s not about telling them, ‘You can’t camp here.’ It’s really quite simply saying, ‘Clean up your act a little bit. Make it more compact,’” Harris said.

Violators would be liable for misdemeanor citations and fines ranging from $250 to 25,000.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg suggested a resolution that would accompany the ordinance. A portion of that resolution would ensure that in most cases police will not jail violators of the ordinance and will not seek fines from them.

Some commenters called that out as a contradiction.

“Most homeless people will not obey a rule unless there’s some kind of consequence. We’ve seen that time and time again. It’s not going to get any better unless there’s some teeth behind it,” one resident said.

Other members of the public said the sidewalk solution lies not in making more laws but in providing more programs and housing options for the homeless.

“I’ve spoken to thousands of homeless people, tried to get them to accept services. And if you have something concrete that you can take them and show them, 90% of them are going to accept housing. That’s been my experience,” another resident said.

“I don’t want there to be such division on these issues. It’s not good for the city. The activists who say, ‘All we’re doing is criminalizing homelessness,’ and the business community and the residents who say ‘We need a stronger tool to clear our sidewalks,’ because people should be able to walk up and down the darn sidewalk,” Steinberg said.

The ordinance requires the city to provide alternative locations for people and their belongings after clearing the sidewalk.

That also prompted some public concern.

“Where are you going to store the stuff and how safe and how sanitary is that stuff going to be,” one woman said.

Some citizens, in favor of the ordinance, brought pictures of the sidewalks blocked in their own neighborhoods.

After a lengthy discussion, the council unanimously approved the ordinance making it a misdemeanor to block sidewalks in Sacramento.