Coming soon to “a San Francisco sidewalk near you”

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Early this month, San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon explained to the Guardian his rationale for a proposed sit / lie ordinance, which would make it illegal to sit down or lie down on San Francisco sidewalks. “We’re responding to quite frankly what is a tremendous groundswell of pressure from residents and business people about very aberrant, aggressive behavior,” he said. “We don’t have an existing tool to deal with that behavior,” in the form of other city ordinances, he said.

The proposal has been discussed officially during public hearings at the San Francisco Police Commission, the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee, and in a series of editorials at local media outlets. It’s shaping up to be quite controversial.

And if an upcoming event sparked by the debate surrounding sit-lie is any indication, there is a “tremendous groundswell of pressure” on the other side of the coin, too. A group of organizers who recently created a Facebook group called “San Francisco Stands Against Sit-Lie” are also the architects behind a daylong event to be staged on city sidewalks called “Sidewalks are for People!” The event will be held March 27, on “A San Francisco Sidewalk Near You,” according to the event announcement.

What exactly will take place on the sidewalks is largely undefined, but it all sounds very, um, San Francisco. “On Saturday, March 27 people all over San Francisco will be doing what they love on the city's sidewalks and they will be inviting family, friends, and neighbors to join them,” the event page explains. “Music, barbecue, yoga, lemonade stand, read, relax, art, talk, sun bathe, chess, meditate, tai chi, eat, knit, dance, paint, write, sit, lie down, play, chalk drawings, sing, DJ, drums, chill -- Anything!”

Andy Blue won’t take credit for anything more than helping to brainstorm this event idea and doing some Facebooking, but he’s clearly excited about all the various forms the sidewalk shindigs could take. “We knew that if the word [about a sit-lie ordinance] got out to a broader audience, people would be really alarmed,” Blue told the Guardian. “We want to show that San Francisco is unified in its celebration of public space and civil liberties.” The proposed law, he added, “doesn’t represent what this city is about.”

Groups who have been named as opponents of a sit/ lie ordinance include the AIDS Housing Alliance of SF, Axis of Love SF, Causa Justa :: Just Cause (CJJC), the Coalition on Homelessness, Creating Alternatives to Castro Homelessness (CATCH), Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC), the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the Homeless Youth Alliance, the Housing Rights Committee of SF, La Raza Centro Legal & Day Labor Program, the SF Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, the National Lawyers' Guild, POOR Magazine/Poor News Network, Pride at Work, San Francisco Tenants' Union, and the St. Anthony Foundation.

“So far, in the mainstream media, there’s been a very narrow discussion and it’s been driven by fear, and it’s been driven by people who don’t live in San Francisco,” Blue said in a swipe at San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius, who lives in Walnut Creek and has penned a series of editorials complaining about street kids harassing business patrons in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. “We want to show that there are people all over the city who don’t want this draconian law.”

Comments

But who gives a shit what these groups have to say but other true believers? It's so tiresome that these groups who represent the terminally outraged are always out whining.

I don't blame the un-caused citizens of the city for getting tired of the street waste cases, but who represents them? Certainly not any of the progressives on the board, as they moved up through the ranks of these worthless "rights" outfits.

Groups who have been named as opponents of a sit/ lie ordinance include the AIDS Housing Alliance of SF, Axis of Love SF, Causa Justa :: Just Cause (CJJC), the Coalition on Homelessness, Creating Alternatives to Castro Homelessness (CATCH), Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC), the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, the Homeless Youth Alliance, the Housing Rights Committee of SF, La Raza Centro Legal & Day Labor Program, the SF Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, the National Lawyers' Guild, POOR Magazine/Poor News Network, Pride at Work, San Francisco Tenants' Union, and the St. Anthony Foundation.

Posted by glen matlock on Mar. 17, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

I'm glad to see the groups who are opposing this nonsense and I thank them.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance and these groups clearly understand that. That doesn't mean one can take a break year after year. No, that means one has to keep working at freedom *every day.*

I wonder how many people who comment here actually live in San Francisco. This site, like any other website, is on the Internet so people from all over the nation and world can be commenting here. And people can and do pretend to live here while they "hate" on any and all things San Francisco. I know that's the case on SFHate (also known as SFGate). Many of the rabid regressive trash on there who pretend to live here, don't. They give themselves away on occasion particularly when they don't know how to spell the mayor's name or know what the transportation system here in The City is called. They call it "light rail" (as if that has anything to do with it), rather than Muni metro.

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.----Benjamin Franklin

Posted by Sam on Mar. 17, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

Do you live in San Francisco? I would love to know which neighborhood you live in. In my neighborhood, sleazy guys are always loitering up the street from my house getting drunk, pissing on cars, verbally harassing female pedestrians - starting at about 8am.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

The same tired old list of the usual whiners and complainers. When I used to work for a "progressive" organization these same names were the ones you could always call or e-mail for an endorsement of your position. Usually they'd reply within the hour and they always agreed.

Let's see how much influence they have when this is put to a vote of the people.

Posted by Lucretia the Trollop on Mar. 17, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

I was a member of the ACLU for about 15 years, had to quit when they became more and more leftist and not pro-rights. The two are hardly the same.

Who is going to protect us from the SF lefts assaults on out rights when they pretend to be pro-rights. It's odd that they think digging through our trash and mandating our lives for own good is visionary, while they pretend to care about losing our rights.

How many of those "rights" groups complained when the "progressives" on the board of supes cost the city 750,000 when they tried to take the law abiding citizens of the cities hand guns?

Posted by glen matlock on Mar. 17, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

I meant to respond to this in my earlier comment. The police chief said this:

“We don’t have an existing tool to deal with that behavior,” in the form of other city ordinances, he said.----Police chief Jorge Gascón.

------------------------------

Why is there a need for a city ordinance for "that behavior?" You have an existing tool. It's called walking or bicycling the streets.

Posted by Sam on Mar. 17, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

If you believe that sidewalks are for people, then join what promises to be a historic event on March 27!

http://www.standagainstsitlie.org/

We have already have nearly 850 rsvps!
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=392956830165

See you on the sidewalks MARCH 27!

Posted by Andy Blue on Mar. 17, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

There was an article about this today on the streetsblog.

http://sf.streetsblog.org/2010/03/17/standing-up-to-sit-lie/

Seems very san francisco, in a good way. Because I actually love San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

There was an article about this today on the streetsblog.

http://sf.streetsblog.org/2010/03/17/standing-up-to-sit-lie/

Seems very san francisco, in a good way. Because I actually love San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

Join us on Saturday, March 27 for what promises to be a historic event. Everyone can participate. Just do something fun on the sidewalk and invite your family, friends, and neighbors!

We've already got 850 RSVPs (and growing by the hour) so you'll be in good company.

Final rally at Market/Castro Plaza at 4pm.

See you on the sidewalks!

Visit StandAgainstSitLie dot org to find events happening across the city and to put your event "on the map."

Posted by Andy Blue on Mar. 17, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

With Municipal Code 22, laws against unlicensed dogs, assault, spitting, threatening, and aggressive panhandling-- this law simply outlaws peaceful assembly and criminalizes ANYONE in public space.

If the issue is the 'street kids in the Haight'-- the police and supporters should really explain how this law creates any solutions, instead of creating fear and anger against anyone not in a car in this city. Scary, unnecessary, and a waste of resources.

Posted by mcas on Mar. 17, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

According to streetsblog (link above), the question that the corporate Chamber of Commerce asked in their little poll on this topic was:

Quoting from sf dot streetsblog dot org:

The question that they asked was not simply if you support a law that will make it illegal to sit or lie down on a sidewalk. It asked if you support a law that would arrest people who were harassing you. I’d support a law like that! I don’t want to be harassed. There are already laws against that. There are laws against aggressive panhandling, against panhandling, against blocking the sidewalk, against smoking crack. End Quote

Well what a sleazy poll, as I had expected. But so typical of polls these days. The question that was supposedly asked did generate the desired poll results. And it should be pointed out that they polled only 500 voters out of a population of 808,976 (2008 estimated population of The City & County of San Francisco). They didn't poll me or anyone I know. Who the hell did they poll? Or did they poll anybody...or did they make the whole thing up? Wouldn't surprise me if they did.

And even if the voters (those who bother to vote) were to approve this thing, what does that say? If the majority of those who vote were to vote for slavery, or to ban women from voting or put LGBT people in concentration camps or vote to abolish the US Constitution, WOULD THAT MAKE IT RIGHT? And the US Constitution---what remains of it after Bush/Cheney and now Obama---is in place to protect the minority from the majority. But of course, the rabid regressives don't give a damn about the US Constitution, if it gets in the way of their regressive agenda.

Posted by Sam on Mar. 18, 2010 @ 12:45 am

I'm puzzled by that slogan, if the sidewalks are not for the people, who are they for?

Do you walk down the sidewalk and wonder why there is so much air filling them up?

Posted by glen matlock on Mar. 18, 2010 @ 8:40 am

The name is in response to the law which would make it illegal for people to be to use the sidewalk.

Posted by Nate Miller on Mar. 18, 2010 @ 10:53 am

Are you 15? It doesn't make it illegal for people to use the sidewalk to walk, skateboard, rollerskate, bicycle, etc. It gives police a legal means to get huge hostile homeless/gutterpunk encampments off sidewalks.

I saw one last week on Haight & Masonic (a few blocks from where I live) that consisted of roughly ten people sitting and laying on filthy blankets and some drunk epic beard dude waving a "Why Lie? I need beer" sign in my face, then muttering curses at me when I walked by.

Not necessarily illegal behavior without a sit-lie law, but certainly a blight - as well as a serious inconvenience for homeowners and, yes, tourists in the area.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 18, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

I don't know if this is what happened in other cities that have sit/lie laws, I'm actually pretty sure that is not the case.

Although I'm opposed to the law, I do find this jingoistic argument ad-absurdum very odd.

The hysterics of the some rights San Francisco values type is always very strange, if this law is passed we will all be banned from walking down the sidewalk, because if the sidewalks are not for people, who are they for?

I wonder who or what the some rights San Francisco values people think will be using the sidewalks if the law is passed.

Perhaps a better slogan might be, "we bitched every time a cop has enforced the existing law, now people are sick of our bums and want more laws, that we will bitch about too, why don't they enforce the existing laws"

That would be a good slogan for the some rights crowd.

Posted by glen matlock on Mar. 18, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

don't bike on sidewalk, idiots. sit, lie, draw. but bikes on the sidewalks freak out pedestrians. as do aggro aggressive panhandlers. and as this proposed law does me. criminalizing congregating in the sidewalk is not okay. saturday sounds fun!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 24, 2010 @ 8:37 pm