Opponents of Berkeley sitting ban gear up for fight

booma cheema, the director of BOSS, or Building Opportunites for Self-Sufficiency, spoke out against the proposed sitting ban Monday at a CIty Council Agenda Committee meeting. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Opponents of Berkeley’s sitting ban launched a counter attack against the proposed ballot initiative Monday, but their plans for a sit-in fizzled.

After rejecting the idea of holding a protest outside Mayor Tom Bates’ house,  homeless and youth activists had planned to hold a sit-in at the City Council’s Agenda Committee meeting Monday afternoon. But the meeting was unexpectedly moved from a spacious sixth floor conference room to a smaller – but more visible – space on the first floor of City Hall, leaving too little room to sit down.

Instead, opponents of the sitting ban spoke passionately about why they objected to making it illegal to sit on the sidewalks in commercial districts between 7 am and 10 pm. The City Council will vote Tuesday night whether to place the item on the November ballot.

Youth “are just not the demons the press and some of the council members have made them out to be,” said Pattie Wall, executive director of the Homeless Action Center, which provides benefits and advocacy for the homeless in Alameda County.” She was one of about 20 people who spoke. “Passing this law sends the wrong message to anyone in a bad situation here in Berkeley.”

Opponents of the proposed ban plan to hold a rally outside Old City Hall Tuesday night at 6 pm. They have also made up colorful posters that read, “I am a Berkeley Voter & I Stand Up For the Right To Sit Down.”

There is a corresponding poster for merchants who opposed the ban. The merchants and businesses who have publicly come out against the ban include:

Annaher Grocery (at Dwight & San Pablo)
Art House Gallery
Autumn Press
Bear Basics
Blondie’s Pizza
Café Valparaiso
Design Action Collective
East Bay Media Center
Free Radio Berkeley
Helly Welly Lamps
Hippie Gypsy Café
La Pena
PM Press
Rasputin Records
Revolution Books
Starry Plough
Subway Guitars
Urban Ore
Youth Spirit Artworks


Downtown ambassadors help, monitor the homeless [7.01.12]
Berkeley sitting ban progresses towards November ballot [6.13.12]
Mayor seeks to put sit-lie ordinance on November ballot [6.1.12]

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  • Anonymous

     Oh man this is the best news I’ve had all week.  Thank you Berkeleyside editors, I think you made a great decision.

  • Anonymous

     Not downtown but on Telegraph a few weeks ago with my two little kids I nearly got into a physical altercation with a bum who wouldn’t let me out of Amoeba’s door. He insisted that he wasn’t going to let us leave until I gave him money.  After about about 30 seconds of this I gave him a enough of a shove to move him without pushing him onto that awful incense table out front. The best part was that as we were walking away he was yelling something about calling the cops.

  • Guest

    Would one of Berkeleyside’s wiseacres hazard to decode this sentence whose “logic” and naunce escapes me, despite several re-readings:

    “I’ll live with that, I guess: Let Berkeleyside’s brand stand, in part,for banning me just as they’ve forced my “brand” to stand for their banning me.”

  • Guest

     “You’re good at argument, you have many facts at your disposal, and you too often use that to bully others into submission. That needs to stop on Berkeleyside.”Wow, that is pretty lame, and embarrassing to Berkeleyside, I think.

  • 4Eenie

    Ah, the picture was approved!

  • Discouraging bullying in the comments is lame and embarrassing? I’m not sure I understand your point.

  • 4Eenie

    I don’t see anything lame or embarrassing to anyone but the recipient of the email, who brought this upon himself.

  • Guest

    Another small, but obvious irony is that this statement appeared in the Berkeley Daily Planet which does not permit any reader comments at all.  Hence, this banning complaint appears in a local online news forum where everyone is, in effect, “banned” from commenting…

  • Guest

    I don’t have a dog in this fight and don’t even know who these people are, but a) it seems like there is a LOT of bullying allowed in these comments – the old-fashioned kind (for example, just in the comments to this article alone); and b) the quote implies that the person who was banned was banned because he used “good argument” and “facts” and used “that” to bully people.  If someone feels bullied because they are arguing with someone who is really good at argument, and has lots of facts at their disposal, that doesn’t strike me as a problem.  Much of the anonymous bullying I see in the Berkeleyside comments is just name-calling w/o good argument or facts – that kind of bullying seems much more likely to chill comments from others.  (I would recommend Berkeleyside consider switching to Facebook comments, like Talking Points Memo recently did -altho I have no idea what is involved in that kind of move.)

  • We’ve considered Facebook comments and rejected it. First, after a lot of internal debate, we think there’s value in permitting anonymous and pseudonymous comments. You can’t do that with Facebook. Second, Facebook comments requires commenters to have a Facebook account. I know nearly 1 billion people worldwide have Facebook accounts, but I also know that many of our readers don’t.

    I also don’t want Facebook to “own” our comments. We’re proud to be independent and local, and we want to stay that way in much of what we do. Disqus, which provides the software our comments run on now, is based in Emeryville. Not quite Berkeley, but close enough.

    On the whole bullying discussion, taking any one of Tom Lord’s comments in isolation I’d agree wholeheartedly with you. Who wouldn’t want well-argued comments bolstered by facts? But when that turns into three, four, a half dozen, even a dozen comments in a single thread, all pounding away at people who disagree, that is a kind of bullying from my perspective. It isn’t name calling bullying, true, but the effect is the same.

  • Guest

     Ok fair enough – thanks.  I don’t really agree that what you are describing is bullying, but I also don’t know the specific comments you’re referring to. To me, if someone (especially someone posting anonymously) posts an opinion, they should be prepared to have their argument disputed by well-argued comments bolstered by facts.  If all of the comments are well-argued comments bolstered by facts, even if they are relentless, that is a good thing in my mind, not bullying.  The effect may be the same as name-calling – i.e., the person who originally posted is reluctant to post again – but for different reasons.  I don’t have a problem with people who aren’t willing to have their views subjected to well-supported arguments.  It seems much more problematic when people aren’t willing to share their views because they don’t want to be called names and ‘shouted’ down, which seems like it happens ALL THE TIME in these comments.

  • Guest

     And just to be clear, the email seemed to take him to task for being good at argument and having lots of facts at his disposal.  If that’s what is being discouraged in the comments, I think that’s embarrassing for Berkeleyside.  I get that that’s not really what you’re saying, but it does seem like you are saying if you keep using good argument and facts over and over again, that can cross the line.  That seems wrong to me.

  • Anonymous

    Methinks the lawsuit threats had more to do with it than anything else.

  • anon

    and let the lynch mob begin!

  • Steven Donaldson

    Very interesting none of the businesses listed who are against the ordinance are in Downtown Berkeley. They’re obviously not impacted by anyone sitting in front of their business. This is NOT about abusing the homeless or not caring about people. This is about senting standards of behavior that everyone abides by. The reality is Berkeley has more homeless services and out reach programs from the City, for all ages, than any city of it’s size in California and possibly the U.S. To me, It’s about recognizing we all live in ONE community and share the space. The merchants, who suffer the most from the often load, rude behavior 5 feet from their doors get very little sympathy from these folks or the advocates who are against the ordinance. They too are struggling to survive, what about their needs and those of the rest the community?  

  • The Sharkey

    Why is it acceptable for people who are against the ban to boycott businesses that come out in favor of it, but when someone who is for the ban wants to boycott a business that is against it you refer to it as a “lynch mob”?

    Personally speaking, I would find it very uncomfortable to display such bald-faced hypocrisy. What kind of coping techniques do you use to alleviate that discomfort? Yoga? Dharma chanting?

  • George Dorn

    I haven’t reviewed the report yet, but if it doesn’t contain the above information, it should.