Even the hippies in Berkeley want the hippies to stop plopping themselves down all day on Telegraph Avenue! Berkeley mayor Tom Bates is asking the City Council to consider putting a sit-lie ordinance on the ballot in November, and we're curious to see how this plays out.

Berkeley's comically liberal City Council probably won't go for this, however maybe tides are changing — they've already got a $1.2 million property-based Improvement District in the downtown which has hired "ambassadors" to go around "reaching out" to the homeless and the transient kids and keep them from making a nuisance of themselves, particularly around the BART plaza on Shattuck.

Bates' proposed ordinance would make it illegal to sit on sidewalks in the city's commercial zones during business hours, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., which would still allow for people to camp overnight. City law already prohibits lying on sidewalks, but Bates tells Berkeleyside "it’s very difficult to enforce.”

Expect the Berkeley council members to argue that the sit-lie ordinance passed in San Francisco hasn't done much good, at least according to this latest independent report, which says that about half of the citations given out around the Haight last year went to the same four offenders, and that it's an "older" and mentally ill homeless population who are getting the brunt of the enforcement. A devil's advocate would argue that the law itself has discouraged the younger transient types from hanging out too long, which means they're not getting cited. But as for the actually homeless... they don't really give a damn about the law.

[ABC 7]
[SF Weekly]

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