Does Sit-Lie Work: Will Berkeley's 'Measure S' Increase Economic Activity and Improve Services to Homeless People?
16 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2012 Last revised: 11 Jun 2014
Date Written: October 22, 2012
In November 2012, Berkeley voters will decide whether to enact Measure S, an ordinance that would ban sitting on public sidewalks during business hours in the City’s commercial districts.
Proponents of the “Civil Sidewalks Ordinance” – called “Sit-Lie” in the municipalities which have enacted such laws in recent years – argue that it will: (1) increase local economic activity (“saves jobs”), and (2) improve services to homeless people (“helps people”).
To test whether Sit-Lie laws deliver on these promises, we reviewed data on economic activity and homeless services in other Sit-Lie jurisdictions nationally, statewide and locally; surveyed community organizations, municipal human services and economic development agencies, business groups and police departments in more than a dozen Sit-Lie jurisdictions, including seven in California; and consulted local stakeholders about implementation challenges and opportunities.
Although there are limits to the data gathered – and more research needs to be done to answer these questions with more precision – we report multiple findings with no meaningful evidence to support the arguments that Sit-Lie laws increase economic activity or improve services to homeless people.
Keywords: Criminalization of homelessness, vagrancy, sit lie, homeless people, Measure S
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