BERKELEY (KCBS) – An opponent of Berkeley’s failed sit-lie ban, Measure S, has proposed that the city create a working group to investigate the root causes of homelessness in Berkeley and devise a comprehensive strategy to address the problem.

“Even though Measure S failed,” said City Councilman Jesse Arreguin, it does not mean that we should do nothing around homelessness.”

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Arreguin hopes the debate sparked by the sit-lie ban will lead the city to focus energy on a problem that impacts not just businesses but anyone who walks down a Berkeley street.

“It was a divisive approach. It would not have solved the underlying issue of homelessness, but it’s a starting point for discussion,” he said.

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Arreguin’s proposal introduced this week calls for the city manager to bring together city staff, business owners, civil rights attorneys and the homeless themselves and assess which services are currently provided and which need to be bolstered.

The group would also be tasked with evaluating current laws and how they are enforced in tackling the problem.

“We have hundreds of people on the streets and sidewalks every day who need help, who need shelter, who need more services and so we cannot turn a blind eye on the issue,” he said.

The Berkeley City Council scheduled a vote on the proposal for its first meeting of the new year on January 22.

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