Public Comment

Berkeley Anti-Sitting Ballor Measure Expensive, Unnecessary

By Paul Kealoha-Blake
Tuesday June 05, 2012 - 10:28:00 AM

I write urging you to speak against the Civil Sidewalks Ballot Measure

I enclose current reports and articles on the potential costs and consequences facing the Sit/Lie Ordinance which our Berkeley effort is modeling itself after.

2010 ‘sit-lie’ law could cost city thousands to jail repeat offenders

San Francisco's Sit/Lie Law Radically Ineffective, Report

As a Downtown property and business owner (East Bay Media Center 1939 Addison Street) I find the Sit/Lie effort to be both an economic and social travesty only awaiting the pull of an administrative trigger. 

There are currently in existence many laws and cures for nuisance offenses in our business districts. I do not wish to increase the cost of doing business in Berkeley by simply creating more costly and unenforceable work for our highly paid Police Department. Additionally, threatening the Constitutional rights of a highly marginalized segment of our community without working collectively toward other less expensive and controversial remedies, appears both mean spirited as well as short sighted. 

As a business owner in the Downtown District, as well as a business patron in the Telegraph Ave. District, I personally see no significant loss in revenue that can be attributed directly to sitting on sidewalks. 

The Downtown has been neglected for decades with blight brought to us by landlords who drive businesses out through unimaginably high rents and leases. We all pay for those decisions. Instead of holding these landlords and realtors accountable for these crime attracting properties, we instead scapegoat homeless youth while cutting funds to social services that can help us all. 

Regarding Telegraph Ave, I again turn to the City and landlords in the business district as a greater determinant of revenue loss than homeless youth sitting on curbs. 

The heart of the district, Haste and Telegraph, remains a gaping wound to revenue generating businesses and real property. We have 3 out of 4 corners of that intersection vacant and non-productive causing significant revenue loss as well as presenting the area as blighted and struggling. This has absolutely nothing to do with sitting on sidewalks. 

I urge you as a leader of our community to address these very real problems. There are few significant benefits in conducting a potentially contentious and expensive public relations campaign, on behalf of those hoping to appease a constituency that is seeking a scapegoat for much deeper systemic inadequacies.