The Durango City Council has approved an ordinance that will make it illegal to sit or lie down on downtown sidewalks, curbs or other public areas.

Councilor Dick White says the ordinance, which was passed on Tuesday, is meant to improve the safety and atmosphere in the city's downtown.

The Durango Herald reports the rule bans sitting or lying down on sidewalks, streets, railways, alleys, parking spaces or other publicly owned property for pedestrian or vehicle travel in the downtown area from 7 a.m. to 2:30 am.

After receiving a warning, offenders of the new law could face fines. The first fine would not exceed $100, and the second fine would not exceed $200. A municipal judge could impose a lower fine, if appropriate, City Attorney Dirk Nelson said.

The Herald reported that some residents praised the council for backing the ordinance, and others were concerned the rule was targeting panhandlers and homeless residents.

Exemptions include people experiencing medical emergencies, people with disabilities, children in strollers or those attending parades, festivals, performances or other special events.

The ordinance, based on others that have withstood court challenges including in Colorado Springs, will go into effect this summer. Violators can be fined up to $200.