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Berkeley Cracks Down on Homeless

November 26, 1998

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ The city council of this famously liberal city has taken a first step toward banning sleeping along two downtown avenues, fed up with homeless people.

Council members gave preliminary approval Tuesday to the prohibition along busy Telegraph and Shattuck avenues.

The no-sleeping measure, which expires 16 months after it takes effect, covers 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and includes $15,000 to pay for beds for drug users.

The council also approved an ordinance limiting people to only two ``stationary dogs″ every 10 feet. It’s designed to counter the practice of some homeless people who tether their dogs together, a potential menace for passers-by.

Tolerance for the homeless has reached its limit in what many jokingly call the People’s Republic of Berkeley, where the city’s vast liberal faction, centered on the University of California campus, has long argued against restricting civil liberties.

Progressive Linda Maio joined with moderate Polly Armstrong to sponsor the council’s measures.

``It seems to me to not be a draconian measure to prohibit lying down in downtown commercial areas,″ Maio said. ``There are parks where people can lie down and rest.″

Lisa Stevens, chairwoman of the city’s park commission, said the laws sound like harassment. ``Things are no different on Telegraph than they’ve been for 20 years,″ she said. ``We had the counterculture. Now we’ve got a new group.″

If approved Dec. 8, the measures will take effect a month later. A third proposal to outlaw skateboarding in shopping areas failed.

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