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Four days to stop new Berkeley ordinance from restricting First Amendment activities
by Larry Rosenbaum ( sosmin2 [at] gmail.com )
Friday Dec 4th, 2009 9:10 AM
A new Berkeley noise ordinance is scheduled for final approval on Tues. Dec. 8. This ordinance will require permits for all amplification, including bullhorn use by labor unions and protest groups. It will also require a second permit if any object is placed on the sidewalk. This could also affect the homeless. It removes the requirement for written warning and 15 minute delay before making arrests. The meeting begins at 7 PM on Dec. 8 at 2130 M L King Way, 510-981-6900. The meetings are usually quite long. Each person can speak for 2 minutes.
After 20 protesters stopped their attempt to amend their noise ordinance last year, the city of Berkeley is once again trying to change their noise ordinance. No notice was given to affected groups about the proposed changes. The new ordinance passed unanimously on first reading on November 17. The final reading is scheduled for Tues. December 8. If it is passed on that date, it will become law.

This new ordinance has some changes that will affect those engaging in First Amendment activities. For the first time, amplified sound permits will be required for all amplification, including bullhorn use by labor unions and protest groups (13.40.030(A)).

At the present time, a written warning of a noise violation must be given and 15 minutes allowed to correct the violation before an arrest. The new ordinance requires only a verbal warning and no time period before an arrest. (13.40.030(D))

In addition to the amplified sound permit, a second permit must be obtained from the social planning department whenever any object is placed on the sidewalk during an event (13.40.100 (B 6). This could also affect homeless people who place any object on the sidewalk. “It is unlawful for any person to place….anywhere upon any sidewalk or roadway, any object…” (14.48.170)

The link to the proposed ordinance can be found here:

http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/uploadedFiles/Clerk/Level_3_-_City_Council/2009/11Nov/2009-11-17_Item_23_Amendments_to_Community_Noise_Ordinance_BMC_Chapter_13.40.pdf

If you are concerned about these proposed changes, you can speak at the meeting on Tues. December 8. The meeting begins at 7 PM at 2130 M L King Way, 510-981-6900 and is usually quite long. Each person can speak for 2 minutes.