NO on Measure S

Because we all share this city. And we all have the right to sit down. Let’s come together, as one Berkeley, and find real solutions that help our communities instead of scapegoating and dividing people.

Berkeley deserves real solutions to homelessness — and constructive policies that help small businesses and public safety. Measure S accomplishes none of these things. Instead, it diverts valuable police resources away from Join hundreds of small businesses, the ACLU, Berkeley community organizations and faith groups in VOTING NO on this extraordinary waste of money and police resources – and stand up for the simple human right to sit down, to rest, and to share our common public space.

Can you imagine getting arrested for sitting down on a public sidewalk? In Berkeley?

If measure S passes, anybody could be cited or arrested for this simple act – yet another law restricting the public space we all share. But it also sets a dangerous precedent, discriminating against an entire class of people who happen to be poor. This is not the Berkeley way.

The problematic street behavior used to justify this measure is already illegal. This measure will harm public safety by diverting police resources away from solving real crimes.

The evidence is clear: Measure S won’t help business. A similar law in San Francisco had no effect on improving merchant corridors, helping homeless people obtain services, reducing the number of homeless people on the street, or increasing public safety.

Throwing people in jail is no solution to homelessness. Instead, it creates a problem for all of us. The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness has found that when people are arrested or fined for “act of and living” crimes in public spaces it makes it more difficult for them to find work and receive services and housing. This measure is a step backwards.

Berkeley has the largest gap between rich and poor in the Bay Area — we need serious solutions, not laws criminalizing the act of sitting down. This measure offers no solutions for businesses, customers, or homeless people.

Join the ACLU, hundreds of small businesses, Berkeley community organizations and faith groups in VOTING NO on this extraordinary waste of money and police resources – and stand up for the simple human right to sit down, to rest, and to share our common public space.

Let’s come together, as one Berkeley, and find real solutions that help our communities.

Berkeley Voices: City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin

“Homelessness has risen during the economic downturn and is projected to worsen amid deepening poverty levels, continual cuts to services and safety net programs, and youth aging out of foster care. Shockingly, the odds are 1 in 6 that foster youth will experience homelessness.

We provide a laudable level of services, but they are not immune to cuts and there is a significant gap that we can and must close. There are simply not enough beds to accommodate all of our homeless and shelters do not remain open during daytime hours. With limited places to go, many homeless inhabit the sidewalk. However, there are sensible actions we can take right now to help our friends in need while ensuring we have safe and hospitable sidewalks for everyone.

We can provide more beds, fully fund the youth shelter, and allow 24/7 access to shelters and respite facilities so the homeless have places to go. We can provide more public restrooms, storage space for belongings, and expand our successful ambassador program combined with Walk the Beat. We can enforce current laws and work with the community to craft new behavior-based laws that are targeted and effective.

Unfortunately, Measure S is a hasty proposal that didn’t work in San Francisco. It does nothing to get the homeless off the sidewalks and into shelters and only shuffles the homeless block to block, diverting precious police resources. The vast majority of citations were issued to older homeless with serious mental and health issues, not the transient youth used to justify the measure. Measure S reflects a frustration that sells Berkeley short of its most valuable asset: innovation.

We rise to confront challenges where others resign. We do not shy away from tough issues when other react in frustration. We are a community known around the world for our unyielding compassion and uncompromising commitment to social justice Together, with our unrivaled capacity to find thoughtful solutions, we have the opportunity to live by example. That’s Berkeley at its best! Vote no on S.”

Doug Minkler makes posters for his own preservation, that is, planetary preservation. His prints are inspired not by rugged individualism, but by the collective humor, defiance, & lust for life exhibited by those on the margins. Read other articles by Doug, or visit Doug's website.