Anti-Homeless Laws Held Over Until Fall (ADVISORY)

Bob Offer-Westort
Wednesday July 01, 2015 - 08:46:00 AM

At 1:30 this morning, Berkeley’s City Council decided unanimously to delay hearing and consideration of four proposed new anti-homeless laws until after the Summer recess. The decision to delay came in response to public outcry against the last minute introduction of substantive amendments at 1:00 a.m. that neither the broader public nor City Councilmembers had had the opportunity to review. Councilmember Kriss Worthington objected that the introduction of such dramatic changes after midnight was deeply undemocratic. Councilmembers Max Anderson and Jesse Arreguín announced that they would not participate in such a process. Members of the public voiced support. In response, the Mayor suggested that the matter should be held over, and referred to the Agenda Committee. Councilmember Maio, the author of the legislation and the amendments, accepted this recommendation, and pledged from the dais to work with opponents from the public. 

“A meaningful public process—one that doesn’t force people to sit through six-hour meetings, one that makes plans with adequate time for public discussion—should result in better legislation that better fits Berkeley’s democratic values and commitment to compassion and human rights. We’re glad that Councilmember Maio has agreed to move this legislation from the backroom into the public,” said Elisa Della-Piana, an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center and a volunteer with the community group Sidewalks Are For Everyone (SAFE). 

SAFE organized both housed and homeless people to attend Tuesday’s meeting. Nearly 200 opponents of the anti-homeless legislation were present at the beginning of the meeting at 7:00 p.m. However, the legislation was placed last on the agenda, after the entirety of the City budget and the controversial hearing over the view from the Campanile. By 1:00 a.m., the crowd had thinned to 80 members of the public in opposition to the proposal, and a handful of journalists and others. Many homeless people had to leave before this item because of Berkeley shelter curfews