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Sleeping Ban at Council: Trade Your Constitutional Rights for a Place on Our Waiting List?
by Robert Norse
Item #28 on Tuesday's Afternoon City Council Session (no evening session, which disadvantages those who work) is a modification of MC 6.36, the City's notorious anti-homeless Camping Ordinance. It has been the subject of scores of protests over the years and thousands of signatures urging its repeal. Other major cities have had their Sleeping Bans overturned by the courts or by the threat of court action (Richmond, Los Angeles, San Diego, Laguna Beach, Fresno) and bans are being challenged in other cities (Sacramento, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara). The ongoing Peacecamp2010 sleep-out on the sidewalk in front of City Hall is demanding the City repeal the law and dismiss all past citations. Instead police and city authorities have continued to ticket and harass, introducing new measures banning protest at night, using other laws to attack protesters, and getting courts to impose OR conditions that ban protesters from returning to the protest.
Perhaps in response to the Jones and Spencer settlements in southern California a few years ago, perhaps in defensive response to the questions raised by Peacecamp2010, City Council has quietly put on its afternoon agenda at 3 PM the first modification of the Camping Ordinance in 8 years, and the first substantive one in 11 years. Acting Mayor Ryan Coonerty (Mayor Rotkin is reportedly away on vacation in Italy) is likely to limit discussion of the ordinance to 2 minutes per speaker.
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