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|No Sit/Lie Law in Berkeley|
|Date||Tuesday July 10|
|Time||7:00 PM - 11:00 PM|
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Berkeley City Council Meeting
2134 MLK (MLK and Center)
(meetings take a while, can last up til 11/midnight)
The Berkeley community beat back the tank, now it's time to do the same with the proposed sit/lie ordinance - an antagonistic proposal, which does nothing to solve the issues behind social/economic inequality.
The proposal claims one of the fundamental "goals and principles of the ordinance would be a desire to see changed behavior rather than citations and fines". However, the proposal at it's heart is an infraction, with "subsequent violations [being] misdemeanors".
The proposal claims to be in support of business owners, but not all businesses support the motion of a sit/lie ordinance. Businesses cannot opt out of the ordinance. Business would be forced to apply for permits for chairs/benches, and those permits may not necessarily be granted. A granted permit costs a fee, and there would also be the actual cost of buying, installing, and maintaining the outdoor furniture.
The city used to have metal, painted green, benches along Telegraph Avenue. The majority of them were removed, even though they were used by everyone and seemingly indestructible, stayed in great condition. Wooden benches on Shattuck and Center were removed. Constitution Square still has benches, but they are for shoppers, as there is a no-loitering sign by the benches.
There is NO NEW PARK SPACE in Berkeley. While the new corporate buildings go up, and the taller, more expensive apartment complexes go up, there has been no progression towards a new open space. Using eminent domain, the city could take Rasputin Records empty lot and turn it into a small park, with benches and plants. Creating small parks on unused lots in commercial areas would alleviate overcrowding on the sidewalks, and provide a break from the commercial monotony.
With no open space to go to, the ordinance pushes people into already overcrowded parks or into residential zones, creating tensions with owners/renters. Commercial areas are general thought to be the public commons, out of respect to private residency. There could be far more social tension when street camps are moved into residential neighborhoods adjacent to commercial areas. If the ordinance passes, there could also be an unintended rise in squatting; if sitting on a commercial sidewalk is a sure bet to a misdemeanor. And while squatting should be promoted as a means to shelter, it shouldn't be done strictly as a resort to fear of conservative sidewalk laws.