Berkeley mayor proposes ban on sidewalk sitting

By David Edwards
Monday, June 4, 2012 16:21 EDT
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Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (KGO)
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The mayor of Berkeley, California is on a mission to stop the scourge of sidewalk sitters in his town.

Mayor Tom Bates has proposed a ballot measure that would outlaw sitting on sidewalks because he believes the young people loitering along Telegraph Avenue are bad for business.

“Sometimes, there are so many people sitting on the sidewalks, you can’t even use the sidewalk or go down the sidewalk,” Bates insisted. “It varies from time to time but it’s a problem. It’s risen to the level of people not feeling comfortable to come to Telegraph or some parts of downtown and that’s not acceptable.”

John, a homeless man who stays on Berkeley streets, told KCBS that the idea “sucks.”

“It’s not only homeless kids and street kids who sit on the sidewalk,” John explained. “People who live in houses like to sit on the sidewalk too.”

A homeless woman named Lilly said she also hoped the measure failed.

“I don’t really see it happening because I don’t think the community would allow that to happen,” Lilly insisted.

Under the mayor’s proposal, so-called “hospitality ambassadors” would remind sidewalk sitters they were breaking the rules. Police could then get involved by issuing citations. Violators who do not comply could face a $50 fine or community service, and penalties would increase for repeat offenders.

Some reports estimated that the proposal would cost the city $30,000.

Watch this video from KGO, broadcast June 2, 2012.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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