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Debating Berkeley’s Sit-Lie Ballot Measure

Man asleep in downtown Berkeley. (SF Homeless Project: Flickr)

Man asleep in downtown Berkeley. (SF Homeless Project: Flickr)

The city of Berkeley has a storied history of tolerance. But that attitude is being tested by Measure S, in which the tension between tolerance and notions of quality of life is coming to a head.

The ordinance would prohibit sitting on sidewalks in commercial districts between 7am and 10pm. There are certain exceptions — most notably for medical emergencies and people in wheelchairs — and a warning must be given first. After that, violators would have to pay a $75 fine or perform community service.

On KQED’s Forum show on Friday, both the Measure S supporter and opponent were clear that they are sympathetic to the homeless and their need for services. But they strongly disagreed over whether Measure S would help those in need to get food, shelter or other services. Continue reading