booma cheema, the director of BOSS, or Building Opportunites for Self-Sufficiency, spoke out against the proposed sitting ban Monday at a CIty Council Agenda Committee meeting. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Opponents of Berkeley’s sitting ban launched a counter attack against the proposed ballot initiative Monday, but their plans for a sit-in fizzled.

After rejecting the idea of holding a protest outside Mayor Tom Bates’ house,  homeless and youth activists had planned to hold a sit-in at the City Council’s Agenda Committee meeting Monday afternoon. But the meeting was unexpectedly moved from a spacious sixth floor conference room to a smaller – but more visible – space on the first floor of City Hall, leaving too little room to sit down.

Instead, opponents of the sitting ban spoke passionately about why they objected to making it illegal to sit on the sidewalks in commercial districts between 7 am and 10 pm. The City Council will vote Tuesday night whether to place the item on the November ballot.

Youth “are just not the demons the press and some of the council members have made them out to be,” said Pattie Wall, executive director of the Homeless Action Center, which provides benefits and advocacy for the homeless in Alameda County.” She was one of about 20 people who spoke. “Passing this law sends the wrong message to anyone in a bad situation here in Berkeley.”

Opponents of the proposed ban plan to hold a rally outside Old City Hall Tuesday night at 6 pm. They have also made up colorful posters that read, “I am a Berkeley Voter & I Stand Up For the Right To Sit Down.”

There is a corresponding poster for merchants who opposed the ban. The merchants and businesses who have publicly come out against the ban include:

Annaher Grocery (at Dwight & San Pablo)
Art House Gallery
Autumn Press
Bear Basics
Blondie’s Pizza
Café Valparaiso
Design Action Collective
East Bay Media Center
Free Radio Berkeley
Helly Welly Lamps
Hippie Gypsy Café
La Pena
PM Press
Rasputin Records
Revolution Books
Starry Plough
Subway Guitars
Urban Ore
Youth Spirit Artworks


Downtown ambassadors help, monitor the homeless [7.01.12]
Berkeley sitting ban progresses towards November ballot [6.13.12]
Mayor seeks to put sit-lie ordinance on November ballot [6.1.12]

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...