Berkeley’s sit-lie measure fails by small margin, but more votes to be tallied

The hotly debated Measure S failed Tuesday night, as final results showed that local voters had ultimately rejected the measure by 51.58 percent to 48.44 percent.

Controversial since its inception, the measure — also known as the sit-lie measure — would have prohibited sitting on sidewalks in commercial districts between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. with limited exceptions. The measure aimed to increase the viability of Berkeley businesses by prohibiting sidewalk encampments that foster “increasingly inhospitable” public spaces, according to the ballot text.

The measure received widespread criticism in the months leading up to the election. Voters opposing the measure argued that it offered no solution to the overall issues of homelessness and sidewalk encampments.

However, Mayor Tom Bates, a main proponent of the measure, said the measure’s importance was its potential impact on businesses.

“It’s important for businesses to have an open community to survive and do well in Berkeley,” Bates said. “People who sit in front of stores are discouraging people from coming in.”

The measure would have taken effect on July 1 of next year. Until then, city officials would have worked with police to develop a system to effectively implement the measure, according to Bates.

Particularly on campus, the measure met with disapproval. Campus groups such as Cal Berkeley Democrats, the Suitcase Clinic and the ASUC endorsed a “No on S” stance, with demonstrations and rallies taking place in the weeks leading up to the election.

“I think that this measure is a back-door approach to solving an issue that frankly deserves much more attention and respect than it would be given under this bill,” said Tom McClure, a third-year student and officer within the clinic.

But Student Action Senator Tom Lee said the measure was about the students and their safety concerns more than anything.

“As harsh as it sounds, the rights of homeless people on the streets come second to the concerns of students, because I was chosen by the students to represent the students, not the homeless,” Lee said.

Pink Cloud, a longtime homeless resident in Berkeley, said the measure tried to unfairly target the homeless population and would have distracted law enforcement from more serious crimes.

“If they’re really worried about crime and violent crime, they’re not showing it very well,” Pink Cloud said. “They’re not doing anything about drugs or violence — they’re focusing on people who don’t have anything to trade and don’t have any resources.”

For some Berkeley voters, rejecting the measure is only a step in the right direction.

“The homeless are just another population within our community,” said Mahya Jaberiansari, a junior and advocacy coordinator with the Suitcase Clinic. “It is time for us … to realize what it really means to function in a society where not everyone is alike and not everyone lives the same way.”

Update as of Wednesday 2:58 p.m.: 

Although tentative predictions are being made based on the votes that have been processed, the election is not over until every single ballot is counted, according to Alameda County Registrar of Voters Dave Mcdonald.

Accordingly, the fate of some local measures including Measure S are still left uncertain.

Mail-in ballots that were dropped off at the polls and provisional ballots are still being processed and could potentially sway the final vote, according to Mcdonald.

“The election is not over until every single ballot is counted — there is a misconception that provisional ballots only get counted if it is a close vote, but that is not the case,” Mcdonald said. “We legally have 28 days to process all the votes, but we get it done much faster.”

Mcdonald said that he did not have the final voter turnout numbers yet, but he estimates that it will be less than the 78 percent of Berkeley residents who turned out for the 2008 election.

Contact Geena Cova at [email protected]

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  • doodle

    The Measure outlawed SITTING not ENCAMPMENTS. Encampments have always been illegal (See P.C. 647 (J) )

  • Michael Bauce

    Tom lee is mean-spirited and only sees the small picture. Hey Tom: Since you are attending an institution of higher learning it behooves you to recognize the equality of all people, not just the UC students. Your stay in Berkeley is 4 short years. Concerns of students?

  • GetOffMyLawn

    You can still kick ’em.

  • “As harsh as it sounds, the rights of homeless people on the streets come second to the concerns of students, because I was chosen by the students to represent the students, not the homeless,” Lee said.

    by “students,” of course he means the Greek System, aka the most unified, empowered, normative (or “white”) body of students on campus. If Berkeley students think homeless people are scary, the rest of the world will fucking eat them alive.

  • Rob Wrenn

    There are still many votes to be counted and Measure S may still pass. I would guess they have another 20,000 ballots to count based on results of last presidential election unless there was a massive drop in turnout compared to 2008. Votes to be counted include all absentees dropped at polls, all provisional ballots and probably some of the vote by mail ballots received close to election day. Students and tenants, who are more likely to vote at the polls, clearly oppose Measure S, while homeowners, especially those in the hills who vote heavily by mail, supported it. This is based on the initial absentees which were about 58-42 yes.

    • DantheLion

      Good luck with that. We have been picking up votes going from 1001 ahead election night, to 1400+ by friday…….. Sweet.

  • waaaaaat

    The *rights* of homeless people come second to the *concerns* of students? Tom Lee, are you fucked in the head?

  • NO on Measure S

    The cruel business worshipers who voted YES on Measure S must have been the fools who voted for the LOSER and LIAR Mitt Romney.

    • Berkeleyan

      Yeah right. Is that the best you can do?

      • Guest

        lol so did you vote for romney or not


      I voted hard-line democrat on everything else but I voted yes on S. Do you know why? Not for the sake of the businesses, but because I don’t enjoy walking down the street, being asked for change (I’m not exactly loaded as a college student, also I never have cash), and having “WELL FUCK YOU” mumbled at me when I have nothing to give.

      • Guest

        No one likes that, but the question is whether we should deal with the homeless (and often mentally ill) by simply illegalizing their lives or by, say, giving them homes to live in and jobs to work at.

        • Dan Spitzer

          Yes, it would indeed be best if the homeless had homes to live in and jobs. And many of them want these things. However, a good percentage of Berkeley’s homeless want to live on the streets because Berkeley’s plentiful homeless shelters will not let these people carrying liquor bottles, drugs or their pets. Moreover, when it comes to some of the young “sitters” in particular, they have come to Berkeley because of its ultra tolerance and numerous services. For them, the culture of life on the street is what they have come here for.

          And some are so tragically out of it that psychologically that they actually prefer to live on the streets or in People’s Park. These people should be hospitalized, with or w/o their consent as they are a danger to themselves and a nuisance and potential danger to others.

          As for jobs, if some were available to these people of low skill, many would not take them. Don’t believe me? Ask ’em.

          Finally, since the sit proposition (barely) failed, it is incumbent upon you if you are aggressively panhandled to go out of ear-shot and call the police.

          • Dan Spitzer

            Correction: the homeless shelter understandably won’t let in indigents who wish to bring in their liquor, drugs or pets. Hence they prefer to sleep out of doors.

            BTW, I have to laugh at the idiot who wrote that those who supported measure S were Romney voters. What nonsense: nearly half of Berkeley voters supported Proposition S and anyone with any brains knows that at least 80% of Berkeley voters are ardent Democrats.

        • I_h8_disqus

          You do realize that not passing measure S will not result in the homeless getting homes or jobs? This was a win for the status quo. Nothing about this election will cause the lives of the homeless to improve in Berkeley.

      • moose

        They just say “Fuck You” because they can tell what a monumental JERK you are.

    • YES on Measure S

      Your so pathetic…and President Obama is the most fair, honest man in your opinion….and just because people disagree, they are fools….yea cause you are as smart as you think you are

  • lel.reddit

    seriously what kind of asshole does it take to propose a law which aims to fuck with the least capable, least powerful segment of society?
    making life harder for the already homeless = utter sociopathy
    business worship business worship business worship business worship

    • I_h8_disqus

      It is too bad that students don’t understand that successful businesses in Berkeley are a great way to have the tax revenues that could provide services for the homeless.

    • Dan Spitzer

      lel, where pray tell do you think most of the revenues come from to provide homeless shelters, food, and other resources to help keep the homeless alive? You may be too dense or ideologically rooted to acknowledge that the monies come from taxes on business revenues. And when business taxes decline, as they have in Berkeley, thanks in no small part to people sitting in front of stores, the amount of funds for the homeless diminish.

      Get a clue! That is, if you really care about the homeless and aren’t using them for some loony lefty idiot-logical purposes.