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POSTED July 11, 2012 7:58 p.m.

Berkeley voters to decide sidewalk-sitting ban

BERKELEY (AP) — Berkeley voters will soon decide whether the city that spawned the Free Speech Movement should bar people from sitting on sidewalks.

The Berkeley City Council voted 6-3 early Wednesday to place the proposed ban on the Nov. 6 ballot despite rowdy protests from opponents.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit sitting on city sidewalks in commercial areas from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Similar laws have been adopted in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Palo Alto and Los Angeles.

If approved, the law would go into effect in July 2013, giving the city time to figure out how to punish violators.

Mayor Tom Bates and other backers say the large numbers of homeless people sitting on sidewalks outside stores and restaurants is hurting business. The ordinance is meant to make the city's business districts more shopper-friendly.

But opponents say the ban would punish Berkeley's most vulnerable residents and run contrary to the values of a city known for peace and tolerance.

Berkeley already has a law on the books that prohibits lying down on sidewalks, but police say only about a dozen people have been cited since 2010.

SF supervisors don't like stop and frisk

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco supervisors have asked Mayor Ed Lee to abandon consideration of a police stop and frisk weapons seizure policy.

The program allows police to stop and search people they consider suspicious.

The Board of Supervisors voted to ask the mayor to stop consideration of a local version of the New York City stop and frisk policy.

Critics say most of those stopped by New York police are black or Hispanic.

In an effort to staunch gun violence, Lee said earlier that he was exploring the feasibility of a similar program in San Francisco.

Sonoma authorities find marijuana grow

SANTA ROSA (AP) — Authorities say they found more than just trees while responding to an accidental shooting in the woods of Sonoma County.

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/NoZe63) that sheriff's deputies found hundreds of marijuana plants growing inside and outside several greenhouses in a rural area outside of Santa Rosa Tuesday night.

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Carlos Basurto says the deputies were called out when a man accidentally shot himself in the thigh.

Basurto says the wounded man, identified as Micah Bigelow, did not cooperate with deputies. A witness had directed deputies to a nearby trailer where they discovered the marijuana.

Remaining charge dropped in priest assault

SAN JOSE (AP) — Prosecutors said Wednesday they were dropping what remained of their case against a California man who was acquitted of beating up a priest he claims molested him decades ago.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeffrey Rosen said his office wouldn't seek another trial for William Lynch after a jury acquitted the San Francisco man last week of felony assault and felony elder abuse.

Lynch was charged after a fight with Jerold Lindner, a retired Jesuit priest. Lynch testified that Lindner molested him in 1975.

The jury deadlocked 8-4 to convict Lynch of a misdemeanor assault count, and he could have faced a year in jail if convicted of that charge at a retrial.

 

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