Standing Up for the Right to Sit Down in Berkeley

By Becky O'Malley
Tuesday May 17, 2011 - 11:10:00 PM

It’s hard to believe, but it seems that the clueless owners of the commercial buildings in downtown Berkeley and on Telegraph are pressing on with their campaign to ban sitting down. It appears that their proposal is still on the fast track for passage in mid-summer, in that convenient sweet spot when most students and many other residents are out of town and the Berkeley City Council can do its dirtiest deeds relatively unnoticed.

Since there are already many well-organized opponents, passing an ordinance like this would be a guaranteed recipe for disruption: certainly demonstrations, possibly calls for boycotting businesses in the target areas. But there’s very little indication that the struggling small business owners who meet the public at street level every day even support the sitting ban.

Boycotting retail merchants and family-owned restaurants seems like a bad idea, because these establishments are more likely to be victims of the high and ever-increasing rents demanded by predatory property owner landlords than instigators of the anti-sitting move. Many small-time operators, such as Fred’s Market and Shakespeare Books on Telegraph, are patient and generous with the down-and-out population on their doorsteps. A better tactic would be a “shop-in”, a reverse boycott in which public-spirited businesses like these are supported by patrons who appreciate their stance.

A major problem for many retailers in such areas is the prevalence of business improvement districts (BIDs) which are controlled and funded by the big property owners, with voting power proportionate to the amount of property owned instead of one-business-one-vote. Telegraph Avenue already has such a BID, the Telegraph Property BID, which, represented by director Roland Peterson, is a main proponent of the anti-sitting move. -more-


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Wednesday May 18, 2011 - 12:57:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

By Ben H.Bagdikian, Joan Levinson, Terry Cochrell, Estelle Jelinek, Ron Lowe
Tuesday May 17, 2011 - 10:35:00 PM

Stop Zell Threats to Downtown Ace Hardware; Monterey Market; BP Lab Site and Global Warming; Warm Pool Construction Displaces Disabled Users; Civil Rights; Tea Party Threatens Health Care -more-

Disappointed In Berkeley

By Kathleen Wilson
Monday May 16, 2011 - 04:48:00 PM

We’ve just returned to the east coast from 10 days in Berkeley and are still recovering from the greeting we received. We have relatives in the area and decided the best way to visit was to rent our own place. We did through VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owners), finding a very attractive and affordable duplex two blocks from our family on Derby Street. -more-

Discrimination and the Smokefree Universe Far, Far Away

By C. Denney
Monday May 16, 2011 - 05:05:00 PM

Smokers congregate outside the Acme Bar on San Pablo Avenue, blowing clouds of smoke into the air of the smokefree business district. No cops, no tickets, no scolding by management. It’s the same story down the street at the Albatross, where employees who smoke join the crowd, puffing away in the evening air, even using an ashtray by the door supposedly forbidden for establishments to place in smokefree areas. It’s the same at the Jupiter, in Downtown Berkeley, the same at the Trieste Café. It’s the same all over town. -more-

KPFA's Republican Activist

By Daniel Borgstrom
Wednesday May 18, 2011 - 07:11:00 AM

KPFA appears to have a Republican activist, and a high-profile one at that. She is Harmeet K. Dhillon, chair of the GOP in San Francisco and an innovative political strategist. She also heads a law firm which has been representing a faction in the station's ongoing turf war, and her role in this seems to be something more than a client-attorney relationship. -more-