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Occupy Sebastopol offers to end encampment

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Occupy Sebastopol protesters have offered to end the encampment at the town plaza in return for the city allowing them to keep a supply tent and conduct nighttime vigils on the sidewalk.

Called "The Occupy Sebastopol Peacetime Compromise," invoking the "Peacetown USA" slogan that the City Council adopted in early 2010, the offer was presented to the City Council at a special meeting Thursday night.

"I think it's a good thing," Mayor Guy Wilson said Friday. "What they are proposing to do is free speech, moving away from encampment and those activities that cross the line and become conduct subject to restriction."

Occupy participants told the council that the policy will be reviewed at two general assemblies, and that it is likely to be approved.

That could lead to the encampment being taken down by Monday, said police Chief Jeff Weaver.

"I am more than comfortable with this," Weaver said. "If this affords the Occupy people to chart their course in the next few days and move on, it is a wise decision."

The encampment has been in place in the town plaza since Nov. 5, in violation of city ordinances that require special permits for the use of parks and prohibit overnight camping.

There have been no reported problems and the participants have been praised by city officials for cleaning the restroom and picking up litter.

However, the city has become increasingly concerned with having to overlook the ordinance violations and wants protesters to apply for a special events permit.

The city had set a deadline of having an application submitted by last Tuesday. But the one that was submitted was not signed by the group's attorney, David Bush of Sebastopol, and was rejected by city.

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or bob.norberg@pressdemocrat.com.

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