Election Section

Press Release: Coalition Releases Ballot Statement: Berkeley Anti-Sitting Measure S is “An Extraordinary Waste of Money and Police Resources”

From Christopher Cook, Communications Director, Berkeley Standing Up for the Right to Sit Down/No on S (berkeleystandinguppress@gmail.com; 415-504-0325);Pattie Wall, Executive Director, Homeless Action Center (510-333-0772)
Wednesday August 29, 2012 - 10:20:00 AM

A Berkeley coalition of merchants, neighborhood and social service groups, and religious and city leaders today released its official ballot argument against anti-sitting Measure S—calling it an “extraordinary waste of money and police resources” that infringes on all city residents’ civil rights and liberties. 

The ballot statement, signed by city councilors Max Anderson and Kriss Worthington and others, urges Berkeley voters to reject Measure S as a costly and ineffective proposal that “will harm public safety by diverting police resources away from solving real crimes…We need serious solutions, not laws criminalizing the act of sitting down.” 

A rebuttal argument signed by city councilor Jesse Arreguin and others added: “Instead of pushing people out of our shared public spaces, we can unite to create real solutions for the economic problems that plague small businesses.” 

“This measure is completely counter-productive,” said Pattie Wall, Executive Director of the Homeless Action Center. “All it does is push poor people around without creating any solutions for our city's merchants, or for homeless people or other residents.” 

The full ballot argument text is below. 

No On Measure S Ballot Argument 

Can you imagine getting arrested for sitting down on a public sidewalk? In Berkeley? 

If Measure S passes, anybody could be cited or arrested for this simple act—yet another law restricting the public space we all share. But it also sets a dangerous precedent, discriminating against an entire class of people who happen to be poor. These are not Berkeley values. 

The problematic street behavior used to justify this measure is already illegal. This measure will harm public safety by diverting police resources away from solving real crimes. 

The evidence is clear: Measure S won’t help business. A similar law in San Francisco had no effect on improving merchant corridors, helping homeless people obtain services, reducing the number of homeless people on the street, or increasing public safety. 

Throwing people in jail is no solution to homelessness. Instead, it creates a problem for all of us. The U. S. Interagency Council on Homelessness has found that when people are arrested or fined for “act of and living” crimes in public spaces it makes it more difficult for them to find work and receive services and housing. 

This measure is a step backwards. 

Berkeley has the largest gap between rich and poor in the Bay Area—we need serious solutions, not laws criminalizing the act of sitting down. This measure offers no solutions for businesses, customers, or homeless people. Join the ACLU, hundreds of small businesses, Berkeley community organizations and faith groups in VOTING NO on this extraordinary waste of money and police resources—and stand up for the simple human right to sit down, to rest, and to share our common public space. Let's come together, as one Berkeley, and find real solutions that help our communities. 

KEEP SITTING LEGAL. Vote NO on Measure S. 

  • Max Anderson, Berkeley City Council, District 3
  • Kriss Worthington, Berkeley City Council, District 7
  • Boona Cheema, Executive Director, Building Opportunities for Self-Reliance (BOSS)
  • Nolan Pack, Senator, Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC)
  • Eleanor Walden, Berkeley Grey Panthers