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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Reactionary Laws Make Bad Public Policy

Ghost Stories And Marsh Mellows Will Now Land You In Jail

What if Emeryville's Recreation Center, a popular summer camp for local children, wanted to say, design an outdoors appreciation program that culminated in a actual camp out under the stars in a tent for a night complete with a campfire and marsh mellows out at the marina point park?
Well, after next month when the council votes on a new ordinance for Emeryville, they'd all be arrested.

That's because out of fear of the Occupy movement, what's now allowable with City Hall special permission; that is camping in a public park, will soon be a misdemeanor offense with no chance for permission to be granted, even if it's urban school kids learning the joys of camping.

Last night at City Hall, the Chief of Police Ken James told the city council he is feeling constrained because as of now, officers can only issue citations to illegal campers.  He said he needs a bigger hammer; a new misdemeanor law will allow officers to arrest campers he said.  It'll be off to jail with them.  Mr James invoked the specter of the Occupy movement to convince the council members.  With the new Emeryville law, camping is to be made illegal under any circumstances without any possibility for special permission to be granted.  The new law is not meant to's meant to prohibit, full stop.

This is the worst way to make law: from an emotional response comes a pure reaction.  Emeryville has gone for over a hundred years without the criminalization of camping and now because of the Bay Area police officer's bizarre obsession with the Occupy movement, and it is an obsession, we're told we have to add yet another harsh sanction to the books.  This kind of anti-rational emotional responses to the "Just Say No" drug hysteria of the 80's lead California law makers to adopt the absurd and overwrought 'three-strikes' laws.

We respect and admire Police Chief James but he blew it on this one and the council is wrong to pass laws that are so obviously reactionary in nature.  Let's not let fleeting emotional events overtake us... let's be a little more circumspect as we engage in what should be the serious business of law making.


  1. There should be an exception allowing children under supervision to camp temporarily in parks as long as they don't have any impure thoughts regarding the status quo of society.

  2. I doubt very seriously that Occupy movement gives a rat's ass about Emeryville.

  3. The law makes sense to me. There are no camp grounds in Emeryville, so why would you allow people to camp out ...? Should we allow people to camp in the streets, or in front of public buildings...?

    How would Emeryville benefit by allowing people to camp out.? All of the parks are closed in the evenings for good reason. Where would someone camp in the City..?