Berkeley and the homeless

Thomas Lifson
Even Berkeley has had it with street people, at least the aggressive and disruptive ones. Last night the City Council passed 9-0  the Public Commons for Everyone Initiative. The Initiative is a far reaching set of changes that empower the police to remove those who lie on the sidewalk, drink or shout in public, have a shopping cart, or urinate or defecate. Oh yes, and who smoke near buildings in commercial areas.

Being Berkeley, there is plenty of concern about providing enough programs in which to enlist the disruptive and aggressive homeless. A new tax has been levied, in the form of a parking meter fee increase, with the incremental revenue flowing to a special fund for homeless services.

This is the classic Berkeley solution: tax cars because cars are bad. Give money to services for the homeless because the homeless are good.

The city's merchants are so concerned by the homeless driving away their customers that they are strong backers, even though their customers will pay more to patronize them, if they need to park.

But there's even more to it. It's already nearly impossible to find street parking in downtown Berkeley most hours of the day. Downtown Berkeley merchants are already reeling from the closure of a large city-owned parking lot. The land was essentially given to developers on the pretext that the office building they were putting up would as part of a complex of buildings would honor David Brower, founder of the Sierra Club, and house many nonprofit environmentalist groups.

The closure of this fairly large (half a block) parking lot follows the closure a few years ago of a multi-hundred car parking structure in downtown Berkeley. It was razed to make room for a library expansion/condo development in which the condos got most of the land occupied by the garage.

In other words, the anti-car forces have been eliminating parking, and now with the supply reduced, they are raising the price of street parking, as any capitalist would do. Of course, this means that I patronize even fewer downtown businesses than before.

The San Francisco Chronicle quotes a City Council member:  
"Everyone deserves a place to sleep and a place to go to the bathroom, and it shouldn't be on the street," Councilman Laurie Capitelli said. "We need to address the issue and face it head on, which is what I think the Public Commons Initiative does."
The homeless have exacted an enormous cost on Berkeley. There is a sense of fundamental disorder on the streets when they are populated by beggars. I wish the social services providers well in dealing with their new clients.

Even Berkeley has had it with street people, at least the aggressive and disruptive ones. Last night the City Council passed 9-0  the Public Commons for Everyone Initiative. The Initiative is a far reaching set of changes that empower the police to remove those who lie on the sidewalk, drink or shout in public, have a shopping cart, or urinate or defecate. Oh yes, and who smoke near buildings in commercial areas.

Being Berkeley, there is plenty of concern about providing enough programs in which to enlist the disruptive and aggressive homeless. A new tax has been levied, in the form of a parking meter fee increase, with the incremental revenue flowing to a special fund for homeless services.

This is the classic Berkeley solution: tax cars because cars are bad. Give money to services for the homeless because the homeless are good.

The city's merchants are so concerned by the homeless driving away their customers that they are strong backers, even though their customers will pay more to patronize them, if they need to park.

But there's even more to it. It's already nearly impossible to find street parking in downtown Berkeley most hours of the day. Downtown Berkeley merchants are already reeling from the closure of a large city-owned parking lot. The land was essentially given to developers on the pretext that the office building they were putting up would as part of a complex of buildings would honor David Brower, founder of the Sierra Club, and house many nonprofit environmentalist groups.

The closure of this fairly large (half a block) parking lot follows the closure a few years ago of a multi-hundred car parking structure in downtown Berkeley. It was razed to make room for a library expansion/condo development in which the condos got most of the land occupied by the garage.

In other words, the anti-car forces have been eliminating parking, and now with the supply reduced, they are raising the price of street parking, as any capitalist would do. Of course, this means that I patronize even fewer downtown businesses than before.

The San Francisco Chronicle quotes a City Council member:  
"Everyone deserves a place to sleep and a place to go to the bathroom, and it shouldn't be on the street," Councilman Laurie Capitelli said. "We need to address the issue and face it head on, which is what I think the Public Commons Initiative does."
The homeless have exacted an enormous cost on Berkeley. There is a sense of fundamental disorder on the streets when they are populated by beggars. I wish the social services providers well in dealing with their new clients.