Yes on Measure S is proud to have run a positive, constructive campaign, and we remain committed to making Berkeley’s public spaces more civil and inviting. Starting with a significant deficit in some polls, Measure S has garnered an impressive estimated 48 percent of the vote as of press time. Even among those who didn’t vote for Civil Sidewalks this time, there are many Berkeleyans who nonetheless feel that something should be done. Those who supported Measure S will continue to work with the city, merchants and service providers to help local businesses, save jobs and get people living on the street into the services they need.
The campaign for Measure S drew attention to the essential role our local businesses play in the vitality of our city, the health of its economy and in our ability to provide the public services we all value. Our unique small and local businesses are part of what makes Berkeley the city it is today. Going forward, we need to ensure that the choice to come to Berkeley is one visitors can make not just comfortably but enthusiastically. We aim to make Downtown Berkeley and Telegraph into places where Berkeleyans and guests alike can feel safe and welcomed. Without the jobs and tax revenue provided by local businesses and the patrons who visit them, we could not afford the level of services we enjoy here in Berkeley.
Measure S brought a renewed focus to the issues of homelessness and street behavior. We are proud and thankful to have had the support of Dr. Davida Coady, the founder and medical director of Options Recovery Services. With her deep knowledge and commitment, we were able to better educate voters and lend a critical eye to Berkeley’s approach to these issues. Measure S challenged the notion that the homeless are best served by an “anything goes” attitude toward street behavior. Proponents of Civil Sidewalks will endeavor to ensure that individuals — especially those facing mental disability and substance abuse — are guided into the services they desperately need. Compassion for the homeless should not mean enabling unhealthy and self-destructive behaviors. We also know that there are many in Berkeley who live on the street by choice, as Daily Cal columnist Jason Willick noted in his Oct. 22 column. Measure S jump-started a long-overdue conversation about how we as a community should set a standard for behavior that reflects mutual respect and ensures that everyone feels welcome throughout our city.
The Measure S campaign was overwhelmed and humbled by the incredible breadth and commitment of the coalition that coalesced around Measure S. Hundreds of merchants across every business district throughout Berkeley endorsed Measure S, joining a wide array of civic, faith-based, social service, academic and neighborhood leaders. This coalition truly reflects Berkeley’s diversity and spirit, and we are deeply thankful to all of the individuals and organizations that lent their support and worked tirelessly for Measure S.
We who supported Measure S know our work is not done. We have seen Civil Sidewalks succeed in other progressive communities like Santa Cruz and Santa Monica, and we will not shy away from finding ways to address these challenges. Our coalition will continue to strive for solutions to discourage unwelcoming behavior, guide people living on the street into social services, help our merchants and business districts and improve our public spaces so they may be enjoyed by all Berkeleyans. We all now know that we can and must do better.
Roland Peterson is the executive director of the Telegraph Business Improvement District.
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