Berkeley has a law that bars people from lying on sidewalks, but Mayor Tom Bates says sitting should be verboten as well, at least in commercial areas, and he hopes to put the question before voters in November.
Downtown, particularly on Telegraph Avenue, encampments of young people interfere with foot traffic and discourage customers from patronizing nearby businesses, he said.
"It's just not civil," Bates told San Jose Mercury News reporter Doug Oakley. "I walk home every day and back and forth to the office and people have stopped me and said, 'Can't you do something about this?' I figured this is a controversial issue and something that should be decided by the voters."
Over the opposition of civil liberties groups and others who claimed the law was an attack on the homeless, San Francisco passed its "sit-lie law" in November 2010. It prohibits sitting on the sidewalk anywhere in the city from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Officers must first issue a warning and offer information about social services before writing citations, which command fines of $100.
Portland's many sit-lie laws have been struck down in the courts or passed their sunset dates.
Bates will ask the Berkeley City Council June 12 to put the measure on the November ballot.