Unfounded Fears 

Why the controversy over a Berkeley measure that would ban sitting on sidewalks is overblown.

Page 5 of 5

Still, Berkeley has always had a street culture; it's always been a place where people begged for spare change on sidewalks; it's perhaps the best city on the West Coast for people to adopt homelessness as a lifestyle. And the chronically homeless don't always cotton to the idea of compulsory care: Cody said he's quite accustomed to sleeping outside, and that he prefers a doorway to a shelter bed. "The last one gave me scabies," he groused. As for getting a job and being integrated into society, he said it's not an option: "I'm out here because I'm crazy."

Neither Caner nor any other sit/lie proponents can force anyone not to be homeless, and they don't have the wherewithal to patch up deeper societal problems. That said, Caner is cautiously optimistic. He's watched other cities transform in conjunction with sit/lie ordinances, and he's seen how the paradigm could work in Berkeley. Moreover, he has a strong elevator pitch. Over the past few months, sit/lie advocates have built a powerful lobby, consisting not only of downtown boosters and commercial landlords, but also a slew of local merchants: Caner counts Paul's Shoe Repair, Caffe Mediterraneum, Site for Sore Eyes, E-Z Stop Deli, Starving Musician, and Thalassa among the supporters, not to mention he has Mayor Tom Bates on his side. He walks along Shattuck Avenue these days and sees green and yellow "Yes on S" signs in many store windows.

Even if Measure S isn't a fix-all, it can certainly make street life downtown a little less convenient for Cody. If voters pass the ordinance this November, he'll have to find a new bedroom.

Comments (22)

Showing 1-22 of 22

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-22 of 22

Add a comment

Latest in Feature

  • Radically Sharing Temescal

    A group of artists, hackers, and other creative people have launched Omni Commons, a new community resource center in North Oakland that they hope will be an antidote to gentrification.
    • Jan 21, 2015
  • Shell-Shocked

    Bay Area residents could enjoy Dungeness crab for half the year, if it weren't for big businesses squeezing out local fishermen and shipping much of the crab elsewhere.
    • Jan 14, 2015
  • Fatal System Error

    Private nonprofit hospitals, which benefit from huge tax breaks, fail to care for the East Bay's poorest residents — and now one public hospital is on the verge of collapse.
    • Jan 7, 2015
  • More »

Author Archives

  • Shots, Licks, and Male Ennui

    Jonathan Singer-Vine's debut film is an honest coming-of-age.
    • Jun 12, 2013
  • Debtor's Purgatory

    People who can't afford to hire an attorney have virtually no chance in court against well-heeled lawyers for banks and debt collection companies.
    • May 8, 2013
  • More»

Most Popular Stories

  • Radically Sharing Temescal

    A group of artists, hackers, and other creative people have launched Omni Commons, a new community resource center in North Oakland that they hope will be an antidote to gentrification.
  • A New Era for Charter Schools?

    Private charter operators could soon take over five struggling schools in Oakland — and reap the benefits of a new parcel tax aimed at boosting public high schools.
  • Jerry Brown Channels His Inner Republican

    The governor's new budget proposal is being hailed by conservatives and criticized by liberals and some Democratic lawmakers.
  • It's Time to Raise the State Gas Tax

    Plunging oil prices have even convinced some Republicans that raising gas taxes to pay for infrastructure and roadway repairs is a good idea.
  • Shell-Shocked

    Bay Area residents could enjoy Dungeness crab for half the year, if it weren't for big businesses squeezing out local fishermen and shipping much of the crab elsewhere.

Special Reports

Holiday Guide 2014

Your guide to the best gifts, gadgets, toys, music, and books of the year; plus holiday food and drink, snow sports, winter getaways, and more.

Taste, Fall 2014

Everything you need to know about dining in and out in the East Bay.

© 2015 East Bay Express    All Rights Reserved
Powered by Foundation