Of the city measures on the ballot yesterday, Berkeley’s Measure S was a nail biter. With only a handful of precincts reporting in, homeless advocates waited anxiously as the initiative held a small but persistent lead.
After midnight, things shifted quickly. The No on S votes gained ground, and by 12:30am, they had a 400 vote lead. Several minutes later, the small crowd exploded in celebration.
If passed, Measure S would have made it illegal to sit on a commercial district sidewalk between 7am and 10pm. Violators would have faced a $75 citation after a warning. And subsequent violations could have resulted in a misdemeanor charge.
Bob Offer-Westort is the campaign manager for No on S. He says the defeat of Measure S is like a David versus Goliath story.
Offer-Westort says the No on S decision makes Berkeley a national leader against laws that he says criminalize the homeless.
“We know they don’t work, we know they’re hurting our communities, we know they don’t help businesses, we know they’re a distraction from creating strong communities, from creating strong local businesses,” said Offer-Westort, “and it’s time to push back and Berkeley is the first place in the country where that’s happening.”
The Yes on S campaign spokesman, John Caner, says thousands of walk-in and provisional ballots have not been counted yet, so he’s still holding out hope. A representative from the Alameda County Registrar of Voters says there will be an update later this evening on the final count.