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Berkeley Council Considers Putting Sidewalk Sitting Ban On Ballot

BERKELEY (KCBS) — City leaders in Berkeley are considering Tuesday night whether to put a measure before voters this November that bans sitting on public sidewalks, a plan backed by the city's mayor.

Called the "Civil Sidewalks Measure," the ordinance would be similar to ones already in place in San Francisco and Santa Monica. The measure would ban sitting on sidewalks in most cases from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The proposal is already under fire from homeless advocates and panhandlers who call it unfair.

KCBS' Chris Filippi Reports:

Many downtown businesses are backing the measure, along with Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, who said his city has a long history of providing help for the homeless.

Bates said his city provides homeless with benefits and the wherewithal to make their lives more productive and feels that homeless people should treat the community with the respect that it deserves.

If approved, violators of the Civil Sidewalks Plan would receive at least two warnings before facing a fine or community service.

Supporters of the plan are saying the goal is to keep the law enforcement option in the back pocket and focus instead on steering people who are in crisis to community services.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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