Homeless advocates sleep overnight in tents in front of old City Hall to protest proposed measures which they say will make life more difficult for the homeless, in Berkeley, on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. Photo: David Yee ©2015
Homeless advocates sleep overnight in tents in front of old City Hall to protest proposed measures which they say will make life more difficult for the homeless, in Berkeley, on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. Photo: David Yee

Tuesday’s Berkeley City Council meeting is packed with important and controversial issues. The City Council will consider a package of laws that address the behavior and impact of homeless people on other residents.

Opponents of the law believe the proposed measure will further criminalize the homeless. Eric Panzer, the chairman of the board of Liveable Berkeley, disagrees and argues in an Opinionator that Berkeley must grapple with “residents’ understandable discomfort with the state of our sidewalks.” The new proposed rules will do that in a way that “carefully balances Berkeley’s commitment to compassion and to well-maintained public spaces.”

Berkeley resident Bill Williams agrees, arguing in an op-ed, published Monday, that the new proposals “are a reasonable first step in striking the balance between the need to provide services and solutions for the City’s homeless, and a desire to expect a minimum level of civil behavior in Berkeley.”

And George Lippman, chair of the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, argues in an op-ed published Tuesday, that the bill “means a road deeper down into poverty, a criminal record, and a bolstering of mass incarceration. For Berkeley, it means accelerating ethnic and social cleansing and the death of diversity.”

The council will also consider allowing the demolition of a rent-controlled apartment building on Durant Avenue, and the staff report does not recommend that the owner rebuild those apartments. In an Opinionator piece, Katherine Harr of the Berkeley Tenants Union argues that that action will set a bad precedent.

Feel free to leave your reactions to these op-eds in the comments section of each piece.

Correction: This story was updated after publication to correct George Lippman’s title.

Berkeleyside welcomes submissions of op-ed articles. We ask that we are given first refusal to publish. Topics should be Berkeley-related, local authors are preferred, and we don’t publish anonymous pieces. Email submissions, as Word documents or embedded in the email, to editors@berkeleyside.com. The recommended length is 500-800 words. Please include your name and a one-line bio that includes full, relevant disclosures. Berkeleyside will publish op-ed pieces at its discretion.

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