Tag Archives: Douglas Smith

Has it gotten harder to be homeless in Berkeley?

Measure S would prohibit sitting on the sidewalk, during certain hours, in Berkeley’s commercial districts. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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After the failure of Measure S to pass in November, we heard from one reader who said there seemed to have been harsher enforcement around town of violations related to homelessness. The reader said a homeless friend had been hassled by police when trying to sleep in a regular spot, and also wanted to know about new rules at the library that limit the size and type of items that can be brought inside.

The reader sent us an email in December detailing the changes, and asked Berkeleyside to learn more.

“Since the no-sit measure failed, the city has begun new, more aggressive treatment of the homeless. My homeless neighbor … has been told he could sleep in the doorway of a movie theater but last night, a cop rousted him from his dry, out-of-the-rain perch in the theater’s doorway. The cop said the theater could face stiff fines for giving [my neighbor] permission to sleep in their doorway on a rainy night.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Central Library gets a mini-makeover

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It was gray and rainy in Berkeley on Wednesday, but the Central Library provided a welcoming retreat.

On the third floor, along a row of magazines, a handful of people sat in tawny leather chairs, reading books, glancing at computer screens, or talking quietly with friends. They were taking advantage of a newly installed seating arrangement, part of a makeover of the first three floors of the library.

It’s been nine years since the Central Library reopened after a major retrofit and remodel and patron patterns have shifted dramatically during that time. Now more than 1,800 visit the main library each day and they take out about 1.1 million items a year – a 35% increase since 2006.

In 2009, the library administration did a new needs assessment of the building and came up with a plan to reconfigure the library’s first three floors. They hope the upgrades, which are almost completed, will make the library not only more comfortable, but more accessible.

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While libraries plan improvements, not all approve

Sign outside Claremont branch announcing renovation plans
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On Tuesday afternoon, the main reading room of the Claremont branch of the Berkeley Public Library was crowded. All four of the library’s computers were occupied, and patrons clustered at the wooden tables scattered around the building.

During the last few years, about 160,000 people have come annually to the Claremont branch to check out books, surf the web, listen to authors speak, or to attend children’s story time. It’s a reflection of the business of the overall library … Continue reading »

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