Sit-lie proponents criticize their allies

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It's really amusing to read the recriminations and second-guessing from the most vociferous proponents of criminalizing sitting or lying on San Francisco sidewalks after yesterday's Public Safety Committee hearing on the matter. And the funniest part is their failure to understand that this punitive, overreaching law just isn't needed to deal with aspects of street life that scare them most, as the police reluctantly testified.

Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius and Haight Street resident Arthur Evans have been the two most vocal promoters of the sit-lie ordinance, and both sounded similar criticisms of the Police Department and the Mayor's Office (as well as progressives, their usual target), Nevius in the paper and Evans on the Guardian's Politics blog (last comment on this item). They call on the so-called “moderates” step up their games or be defeated.

But they miss the point, and falsely believe that “common sense” is on their side. Certainly police officers have the ability to deal with rowdy groups of vagrants who are blocking the sidewalks and intimidating people. They do it all the time, and simply walking a beat usually prevents such behavior. To argue that tough police officers are powerless to deal with thugs defies common sense. And Assistant Chief Kevin Cashman even testified that police don't need an official citizen complaint to deal with people who are blocking the sidewalk, debunking a fallacy that is oft-cited by Evans and others.

But the efforts by Evans and the Chamber of Commerce to rebrand the sit-lie ordinance as the Civil Sidewalks Law – and to threaten to use it as a wedge issue on the November ballot – reveals their true intentions. The bottom line is they don't like the more unruly aspects of urban life, and they believe that they can legislate “civility” and have the cops enforce it.

That's a scary notion, and it's part of larger campaign to, as Nevius writes, “demonstrate to the far-left supervisors that they were seriously out of step with the residents of the city.” Nevius, who is not a resident of this city, wants San Francisco to be a bit more like his hometown of Walnut Creek. But San Franciscans shouldn't fall prey to their divisive fear-mongering, and supervisors like Sup. David Chiu – who has publicly toyed with the idea of compromising on sit-lie with some kind of restorative justice program – should heed the message of this hearing and resist creating an unnecessary new law that the community opposes.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen yesterday as the committee voted to continue the matter for two weeks. And you better believe that next time, the Evan-Nevius crowd will come back strong, with more fearful anecdotes than ever. But the opposition campaign to sit-lie has been strong, creative, and effective -- the true voice of San Francisco -- and it seems up to the fight.

Comments

Thank you, Steven Jones, for your article above. Some comments follow.

You say:

“this punitive, overreaching law just isn't needed to deal with aspects of street life that scare them most, as the police reluctantly testified.”

Assistant District Attorney Paul Henderson pointed out that the courts have interpreted General Order 6.11 to mean that the police must have a civilian complaint before they can direct sidewalk squatters to move along.

The Civil Sidewalks Law would correct this anomaly in the law.

You say:

“They [C.W. Nevius and myself] call on the so-called ‘moderates’ step up their games or be defeated.”

Rather, the mayor needs to assume personal charge of the effort on behalf of the Civil Sidewalks Law. His operatives at yesterday’s hearing were not properly organized.

By the way, I am not a moderate but an equal-opportunity skeptic. I stood up against the moderates’ machine under Mayor Dianne Feinstein for the same reason that I stand up today against the progressives’ machine of Aaron Peskin and Chris Daly. Both groups are carried away with their own power.

You say:

“Certainly police officers have the ability to deal with rowdy groups of vagrants who are blocking the sidewalks and intimidating people.”

Not true. Certain parts of the city, especially in poor and at-risk neighborhoods, are like frontier towns in the Old West.

You say:

“And Assistant Chief Kevin Cashman even testified that police don't need an official citizen complaint to deal with people who are blocking the sidewalk, debunking a fallacy that is oft-cited by Evans and others.”

Cashman was mistaken, as Assistant D.A. Paul Henderson pointed out in his testimony.

You say:

“the efforts by Evans and the Chamber of Commerce…”

My neighbors and I in the Haight and other neighborhoods are not connected to the Chamber of Commerce. We just want our neighborhoods to be safe, clean, and peaceful.

I, for one, am as skeptical of downtown business interests as I am of the nonprofit political complex and the cannabis capitalists.

You say:

“The bottom line is they don't like the more unruly aspects of urban life …”

We want our neighborhoods to be safe, clean, and peaceful. Neighborhood safety should be a right for all San Franciscans, regardless of whether they live in rich or poor neighborhoods.

It still amazes me that people who call themselves progressives are opposed to neighborhood safety.

You say:

“Nevius, who is not a resident of this city…”

Just like Chris Daly, right?

I, however, have lived in the Haight for 35 years.

You say:

“the committee voted to continue the matter for two weeks”

The committee would have voted down the Civil Sidewalks Law yesterday if Chris Daly had not had a testosterone fit.

David Chiu and Ross Mirkarimi, who oppose the law, did not want to be associated in the public’s mind with Daly’s excesses. So they voted with Bevan Dufty, a supporter, for a continuation.

You say:

“the Evans-Nevius crowd will come back strong”

The struggle to secure the public’s right to sidewalk civility and safety is an idea whose time has come. You’re kidding yourself if you think there are just two people behind this movement.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 11, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

Like frontier towns in the Old West?
Really Arthur? Hyperbole much?

Your claim that the cops are incapable of moving along groups of people because of some court case is patently false.

How do I know this?

Because on a daily basis in the Mission, the Tenderloin, Potrero Hill and Bayview & SOMA I witness the SFPD moving groups of mostly African American teens, adults and homeless individuals and dispersing them from gathering on street corners, sidewalks without any written citizen complaint.

You are fear-mongering and regurgitating the same false "facts" over and over and frankly its embarrassing to see a man like yourself, who clearly cares about his neighborhood being used by the likes of Villa Lobos and Nevius.

The current laws that let the SFPD move and disperse groups of people WITHOUT a complaint are:

Aggressive Panhandling: Police Code Section 120-2 & Penal Code Section 647(c)

Obstruction of Sidewalks: Police Code Section 22 & Penal Code Section 647c

Obstruction with Belongings: Police Code Section 63

Additionally the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP are unable to find your mysterious court case or any relevant case law that contradicts via the SFPD General Orders.

From their examination they found:
Examination of the code provisions and other authority reveals that San Francisco police officers can enforce the laws set forth above without the need for a citizen complaint. We understand that some have expressed concern that the Police Department’s General Orders require a citizen complaint before officers may issue citations under these laws. Yet we have found nothing in the code sections themselves, in relevant case law, or in the San Francisco Charter or the Police Department General Orders that indicates that law enforcement must wait to enforce these code sections until they have received a citizen complaint of illegal conduct.

On the contrary, General Order 6.11 notes that police officers issuing citations for sidewalk obstruction violations should attempt to identify, but must at least describe, those persons who were obstructed by the defendant. 24 This implies that it is enough that a police officer simply observe the obstruction before citing the defendant; the police officer is not required to have any contact with the person obstructed, let alone receive a complaint of obstructing behavior.

Likewise, General Order 5.03, which supplies general guidelines for detaining persons in any investigation, merely states that police officers must have probable cause or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before detaining individuals, ordering them to move on, or requesting identification.25 It does not state that such suspicion must come from a citizen complaint rather than from the officer’s own observation. Conversely, the order states that general complaints from citizens do not justify detentions in the absence of reasonable suspicion on the part of the officer that a person’s behavior is related to criminal activity.26 Even if Police Department policy did counsel in favor of requiring complaints prior to enforcement of laws regulating conduct on sidewalks—and there is nothing to indicate that it does—the Police Commission would have the power in any case to change such a policy.27

I suggest you read their report
http://www.standagainstsitlie.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Review-of-C...

Posted by Sit Lie is a red herring on May. 20, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

I don't know what else there is to say about this. I oppose it. If I were originally undecided about it, I certainly would not be now after reading the reams and reams and reams of stuff that the proponents of it have written about it. I'm speaking about migratory Arthur Evans who is addicted to this topic. I've gotten so that I don't even read the garbage that he writes because if one has read his stuff the first time, that is sufficient. What he does is literally just a cut and paste job repeatedly. He often takes what the Guardian writes and dissects it line-by-line and responds to it. Who the hell has that much time? He hasn't learned a thing from what the Guardian has written. As rabid as this guy is, there must be a money trail. It's impossible to have any type of serious discussion with him because his rabid agenda is his agenda and nothing is going to get in its way...especially the US Constitution.

This is really about class-ism. One class of people trying to run another class of people out of the city. This city is for all people regardless of their class.

The migratory pack of Evans/Nevius et al who are addicted to this issue could not be more transparent and the same for their rabid agenda.

A credible psychologist would have a lot to say about both Evans and Nevius. I would imagine that a psychologist would have very special insight as to why someone (Nevius) who does not even live in the City is so addicted to this topic.

There are many, including myself, who are on the side of the oppressed.

Gracias for your report.

Posted by Sam on May. 11, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

In a post above, Sam says:

"He often takes what the Guardian writes and dissects it line-by-line and responds to it."

Shocking!

Just imagine what sort world we'd end up with, if careful reasoning ever caught on!

Luckily, we have ideological conformity to spare us from such a threat.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 11, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

Arthur, you did a wonderful job reinforcing all my points with your long comment, illustrating the perils of fear-based policymaking. Thanks. But the one point that I'd like to take issue with is the one you made about Henderson and the courts wanting a complainant to prosecute these crimes.

Haven't you repeatedly said this isn't about criminalizing behavior, that cops are required to give a warning, and this won't result in arrests? If so, then past caselaw has nothing to do with it because this law isn't about prosecuting people but giving police a "tool" to roust troublemakers and make them move along. And Cashman seemed to clearly say they already have that ability. So once again, why is this law necessary?

Posted by steven on May. 11, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

I meant to comment on this:

"And Assistant Chief Kevin Cashman even testified that police don't need an official citizen complaint to deal with people who are blocking the sidewalk, debunking a fallacy that is oft-cited by Evans and others."

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

From what I've seen in my neighborhood, the cops don't need an official citizen complaint. I've seen cops walk the sidewalk and stop and harass someone sitting on the sidewalk or sitting on steps to a business (minding their own business and listening to music on earphones...not bothering anyone), and cops harassing street musicians.

I've noticed this behavior from cops especially under the new police chief. This guy is bad news. Apparently, there are no serious crimes to be dealt with or solved anywhere in The City so the police now have the luxury of harassing people on the sidewalks. The cops under this new police chief really don't like street musicians, especially if a musician plays a guitar or violin (I like street musicians because their music gives a nice feel to the neighborhood). But watch out, a cop will show up and shut your music down. Ugh. Send this police chief back to AZ.

So my point is that from what I've seen the cops do in my neighborhood, I could not believe that the cops had a formal citizen complaint for each of these instances where cops were harassing people.

The migratory addicts of sit-lie who roam in packs just make up anything to fit their regressive agenda.

Posted by Sam on May. 11, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

Thank you, Steven, for your follow-up comments above. I'll try to address your concerns.

You say:

"Haven't you repeatedly said this isn't about criminalizing behavior, that cops are required to give a warning, and this won't result in arrests? If so, then past caselaw has nothing to do with it ..."

You’re overlooking something here. Without the possibility of legal consequences, orders by the police to move along can be ignored.

Let me explain how things now work, given the courts' interpretation of General Order 6.11:

If police tell sidewalk squatters to move along, and they refuse, the police must have a formal civilian complaint to make them move. Otherwise, the squatters can refuse to move, and there will be no legal consequences.

I've witnessed this situation in my neighborhood. Squatters take over a corner at the intersection. I or a neighbor call the police.

The police come and tell the squatters they have to move. The squatters, who have recently gotten savvy to the law, say "Do you have a formal civilian complaint?"

The police say "no" and leave. The squatters remain and grow in numbers.

If I and my neighbors file a formal civilian complaint, we become targets for retaliation. And even when there is no retaliation, time must be spent appearing in court. The situation become impractical in those neighborhoods where roving packs of migratory squatters take over the same spaces several times a day.

Previously, before the squatters got savvy to the law, the police would come and ask them to move along. The squatters would do so without any challenge to the order. That was that.

But some time ago, the old pattern changed. For whatever reason, many of the squatters wised up. So now the legal loophole has to be filled.

By the way, in all these cases, one way or the other, matters rarely come to an arrest. The goal is just to open up the clogged sidewalks. It's not to arrest people.

However, the ability to arrest provides a means of enforcing the order to move along if the squatters refuse to move along when told to do so. Without the ability to arrest as a final sanction, the orders by the police to move along have no effect.

You say:

"Cashman seemed to clearly say they already have that ability."

Cashman was mistaken. Assistant D.A. Paul Henderson is the one who prosecutes such cases when they do go to court.

Henderson testified yesterday that the courts interpret the language of General Order 6.11 as requiring a formal civilian complaint before police can legally direct sidewalk squatters to move along.

Bottom line:

Many sidewalk squatters now know that there can be no legal consequences if they refuse an order to move along, in the absence of a formal civilian complaint.

So they refuse to move along.

This situation must be corrected. If you disapprove of the Civil Sidewalks Law as a solution, then what solution do you propose?

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 11, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

A suggestion: Why doesn't the migratory pack of addicts obsessed and addicted to sit-lie move to Walnut Creek and join Nevius there? You can all be there together. Once there, help Nevius find a job THERE (the guy has never heard of the concept of working close to where you live), so he will never have to come into this City ever again. The same for the rest of the migratory pack. Find a job in Walnut Creek. The bourgeois elite pack of migratory sit-lie addicts would clearly be happier out of this City.

The one thing that has come to mind for me is that migratory sit-lie addict Arthur Evans is supposedly gay. Well, historically GLBT people have been oppressed by society. So what is Arthur Evans now on a rabid campaign of doing? Trying to have society oppress more people. The irony/hypocrisy in that is glaring.

Posted by Sam on May. 11, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

Arthur Evans repeatedly argued this to be a fact:
"This General Order means that the police cannot, acting on their own, direct people who are obstructing sidewalks to move along."
-Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 04, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

It was not a fact.
But that didn't stop Evans and the other pushers of a Sit/Lie law.
Now, without pausing for even a moment to address his previous opposition to the truth he begins repeating his new lie:

"Henderson testified yesterday that the courts interpret the language of General Order 6.11 as requiring a formal civilian complaint before police can legally direct sidewalk squatters to move along."
-Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 11, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

Which "courts"?
Where is the documentation of this?
Where is the decision that stated this?
How many times will Evans argue that this is a fact, before everyone discovers that he is lying again?

Posted by Guest on May. 11, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

I read an article on another website about sit-lie. It's not worth posting here. One part of it stuck out to me. The comment from Ted Loewenberg was very revealing:

Quote:

On a recent day, a homeless man named Randall gathered with friends on Masonic Street in the historic neighborhood.

"We're all from broken homes, there's reasons why we're here," he said, adding that most of them cause no trouble. "All these rich people in these houses live in the Haight-Ashbury because it used to be cool. But now they don't want us here anymore."

To Ted Loewenberg, president of the Haight-Ashbury Improvement Assn., that about sums it up. The Haight is now one of the city's most affluent neighborhoods, he said, with a growing number of homeowners and families — "real people living real lives."

End Quote

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

So the homeowners/families are "real people living real lives?" (An overused cliche).

So the people sitting on the streets are not "real people?" And they don't have "real lives?" That sounds like what this Ted Loewenberg is saying. That's as pathetic as what the woman (I don't remember her name) from the Cole Valley Improvement Association (I think that's what it's called) said about the people sitting on the sidewalks. She revealed her prejudices in a comment I read awhile back.

(Sigh). More and more, the supporters of sit-lie are showing themselves for who and what they really are. And I wouldn't want to know any of them on any basis.

Posted by Sam on May. 12, 2010 @ 3:31 am

LOL

Self awareness isn't the forte of the American progressive.

Posted by "fear-based policymaking." on May. 12, 2010 @ 9:02 am

Arthur, even if your story of street toughs with legal training defying the cops is true -- and I have a really hard time believing the scene you describe -- that wouldn't stop cops from arresting them for blocking the sidewalk or disobeying an order to disperse. So what if the DA decided not to press charges or the case didn't hold up in court, the cops would still have the threat of arrest to back up their demands. Also, considering that you've been publicly denigrating these kids for weeks now, and pushing a law to punish them, why would you be so scared to file a complaint? Your arguments make no sense.

Posted by steven on May. 12, 2010 @ 10:56 am

Chron columnist C.W. Nevius has just posted an article that cuts to the chase on the proposed Civil Sidewalks Law.

Check it out here:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/cwnevius/detail?entry_id=63344&tsp=1

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 12, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

I scrolled all the way down here and glanced up and saw that someone had linked to SFHate (that's what I call SFGate). That useless site and its backwater cesspool comment forum of mostly rabid haters---who despise this City---is one of the most rabid and hateful sites on the Internet. Then I saw that the "person" who put the link in was migratory sit-lie addict Arthur Evans. That would figure. I glanced and saw the word "Nevius." Yeah, he's part of the migratory pack of sit-lie addicts. I don't read anything that Mr Walnut Creek writes. I stopped reading his drivel when he started his anti-homeless campaign. AND THE MAN DOESN'T EVEN LIVE HERE!

We certainly do have a lot of trash in our society, and I'm not at all referring to the people sitting on sidewalks.

Posted by Sam on May. 12, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

Thank you, Sam, for your contributions to this thread.

When the Civil Sidewalks Law goes to the ballot box in November, I sincerely hope that your arguments will be the ones that appear in the voters' handbook against the measure.

If there is anything I can do to help bring about this felicitous result, please let me know. I would be delighted to oblige!

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 12, 2010 @ 8:12 pm

if that "supposedly gay" comment makes it into the voter handbook, I would be so pleased with our progressives.

Posted by glen matlock on May. 13, 2010 @ 12:04 am

In a post above, Steven says:

"considering that you've been publicly denigrating these kids for weeks now, and pushing a law to punish them, why would you be so scared to file a complaint?"

Your comment, Steven, is off the mark in many ways.

First, they aren't just "kids." They range in age mostly between upper teens and upper fifties. The majority are males.

Nearly all are addicts or alcoholics. When they are abusive or violent, they tend to target women, the elderly, and men whom they believe to be gay. You hear the words "faggot," "bitch," and "cunt" often coming from their lips.

I haven't been working for neighborhood safety "for weeks now." It's been decades. I haven't seen you at any of the many meetings over the years dealing with this subject. Where have you been?

Store owners are afraid to file complaints because their stores are sitting targets for retribution.

Residents are reluctant to file complaints because the judicial process is time-consuming and almost always goes nowhere. The cited parties are back out on the streets within a day or so. Some of the offenders have been arrested hundreds of times.

During the summer months, and especially so when street drug sales are in full bloom, there have been times when I've had to call the police three or four times a day because of incidents at the corner where I live. If I went to court for each of those occasions, I wouldn't have time to do much else in my life.

Instead of going through the courts, a better approach is just to try and keep the stoned and drunk sidewalk squatters moving along. That's about the most that can be hoped for, realistically speaking.

Which is where the Civil Sidewalks Law comes in. It's a modest tool that will make it easier for the police to get the stoned and drunk sidewalk squatters moving. It's not aimed at going through the court system, which is of limited value, for the reasons cited above.

This law is no panacea. But it will make neighborhood life a bit more civil and safe, especially in poor and at-risk neighborhoods.

The Civil Sidewalks Law should be supported in the name of progressive politics.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 13, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

Give it up already Art, no matter how much you put sugar on that turd it still smell and tastes like a turd,

Posted by Jerry Jarvis on May. 13, 2010 @ 10:58 pm

In a post above, Jerry Jarvis says:

"no matter how much you put sugar on that turd it still smell and tastes like a turd,"

You're starting to sound like Chris Daly and the other opponents of civility.

I give you guys credit for consistency.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 14, 2010 @ 4:17 am

Is it "civil" it is to use policemen to deal with people you don't like? I guess it's uncivil to take matters into your own hands, so you must rely on the state to do it for you.

Anyway, I'm a bit confused now. Is this newly named "civil sidewalks" ordinance any different from the earlier "sit/lie?" Because I still don't understand how sitting on a sidewalk alone is uncivil. Isn't it already against the law to harass people? Do people who sit on sidewalks always harass people?

It all seems very disingenuous to somehow make a blanket ordinance into a "tool" for police to use. I'm trying to take this to its conclusions here. Once it is a crime to sit on sidewalks, how will "civil," reasonable people reclaim those hijacked spaces? Or is this an attempt to proscribe normal social behavior—socializing outside? I realize that many spaces (i.e. parks, plazas) exist set aside specifically for this, but why must we be so anal-retentive with the use of space to define and regulate and enclose all space? Why can't lawful, peaceful folks hang out on their block, too, especially if it's all safe again with the bad, alcoholic people gone? If the answer is that police would use "common sense" to not arrest peaceful, clean people, how is that fair? From my own understanding of due process and equal protection, I just don't see how it would be.

Actually, as I mentioned parks beforehand, it gets me wondering if the blowback from this ordinance would be the dramatic increase of "uncivil" types in parks. Nevius actually recommends that they go to parks in "Sitting and lying not problem — It’s punks/dogs."

If the proponents of this law just hate obnoxious street people, I think they should be more forthright about it in the language of the law, and just call it "No More Homeless ordinance." I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he's wrong, than one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.

Anyway, Arthur, what exactly do you want to do with the homeless population of San Francisco?

Posted by MF on May. 19, 2010 @ 2:13 am

Thank you, MF, for your civil post above. It’s refreshing to see an argument from an opponent of the Civil Sidewalks Law that is not filled with name-calling, obscenities, and ad hominem slandering.

You are definitely a cut above Chris Daly!

I’ll try to address your concerns with the following responses.

You say:

“Is it ‘civil’ it is to use policemen to deal with people you don't like?”

The issue is not people who are not liked. The issue is behavior that is destructive to others and the environment.

Is it wrong for police to enforce laws that protect forest habitats from destruction?

Is it wrong for police to enforce laws that protect urban neighborhood from destruction?

You say:

“I still don't understand how sitting on a sidewalk alone is uncivil.”

This issue has been dealt with in great detail on numerous occasions, both here and elsewhere. Here we go again.

The issue is the geography of incivility. That is, turf.

Packs of migratory addicts and alcoholics roam up and down the West Coast in search of readily available drugs and weak law enforcement. They have created a subculture for themselves that is pro-addiction and hostile to recovery programs.

They’re turf-conscious. They colonize public spaces as their turf, for their own exclusive use.

Using this turf as their base of operations, they sell drugs, urinate and defecate on the sidewalks, ditch used hypodermic needles in flower boxes and children’s sandboxes, spray-paint graffiti on buildings, cause fires, throw garbage everywhere, turn their dogs on passers-by, and assault residents and each other.

It’s difficult for neighborhoods to deal with this situation because of a fallacy and loophole in existing law.

General Order 6.11 of the Police Commission flatly states that “a street or sidewalk cannot be obstructed, on a person.”

This is an absurd declaration. As noted, the migratory addicts and alcoholics colonize sidewalks as a pattern of turf control, even when no one else is present.

This General Order requires that the city be blind to this turf-taking situation.

I tried to get the Police Commission to rescind this language in the mid-90s. They refused, saying it was the result of a court settlement, and that they could not readily rescind it.

The Civil Sidewalks Law is the answer. It recognizes that sidewalks can, indeed, be obstructed and that there is such a thing as the geography of incivility. The proposed law gives police the authority to tell sidewalk squatters to move along, even if no resident is present who has been obstructed.

You say:

“Isn't it already against the law to harass people?”

Yes. But you have to wait until someone is harassed before enforcing that law.

The Civil Sidewalks Law is a sensible precautionary measure. It deals with the destructive geographical situation that leads to instances of harassment.

You say:

“It all seems very disingenuous to somehow make a blanket ordinance into a ‘tool’ for police to use.”

The ordinance requires that police give a warning only to first offenders, with no criminal sanctions. In other cities that have such laws, citations and prosecutions are rare. The aim is to get squatters to move along, not clog up the courts.

This law couldn’t be milder.

You say:

“Or is this an attempt to proscribe normal social behavior—socializing outside?”

To the contrary, the purpose of the law is to make sidewalks safe for everyone to enjoy, and not have people become intimidated from using them by thuggish and threatening situations.

You say:

“Why can't lawful, peaceful folks hang out on their block, too, especially if it's all safe again with the bad, alcoholic people gone?”

Hanging out is fine. Colonizing public space for private use, to the detriment of the common good, is not.

You say:

“If the answer is that police would use ‘common sense’ to not arrest peaceful, clean people, how is that fair.”

As noted above, the police response in the overwhelming majority of cases will not be to make an arrest but to direct squatters to move along.

Police discretion is required in the enforcement of all laws. If there is police misconduct with any of them, a process exists for dealing with it.

You say:

“If the proponents of this law just hate obnoxious street people…”

The aim is to rein in threatening and destructive behavior. In most of the worst cases that I have personally witnessed, the destructive behavior is directed against women, the elderly, and gay men.

You say:

“I have more respect for a man who lets me know where he stands, even if he's wrong, than one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil.”

That’s right, anybody who disagrees with any of your dogmas is in the service of the Devil. Now you’re starting to sound like Chris Daly.

You say:

“Anyway, Arthur, what exactly do you want to do with the homeless population of San Francisco?”

Only a small minority of the people living on the streets of SF are SF residents who have become homeless. Most are migratory addicts and alcoholics who have flocked here from elsewhere in search of easy access to drugs and poor law enforcement.

The answer is care and control. Adequate care should be provided to those who need and want it. Adequate control should be exercised over those who are out of control or refuse it.

The Haight, where I live, has one of the highest concentrations of service-providers of any neighborhood in the city. At the same time, it also has one of the highest concentrations of migratory addicts and alcoholics who refuse care.

It’s like when a drunk driver hits someone with a car. The driver should have the option of recovery services. But the driver should also be held accountable for his actions.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 19, 2010 @ 10:37 am

The opponents of the Civil Sidewalks Law continue to misrepresent the facts.

The latest example is this claim by Tommi Avicolli Mecca at the Facebook site of "San Francisco Stands Against Sit/Lie":

“Saturday is the first annual celebration of Harvey Milk's Birthday and we want to remind folks that Harvey opposed the first sit/lie.”

However, at the recent Public Safety Committee meeting, Nicolas King testified that the law of 1977 (referred to by Avicolli Mecca) was a no-standing, no-sitting, no-lying law. It made it illegal even to stand in one place. Also, it provided criminal sanctions for first offenses.

The current law does not apply to standing. And it specifies that there will be a warning only, with no sanctions, for first-time offenders.

This is not the first time that Tommi Avicolli Mecca has misrepresented the facts. Some weeks ago, he claimed that Harvey Milk led the fight to successfully repeal the 1977 law.

In fact, however, the 1977 fell after Harvey Milk was assassinated, due to legal action.

Rhetoric is no substitute for reality.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 19, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

I have been working with Arthur Evens and Ted Lowenberg in the Haight, and David Villa-Lobos in the TL about Civil Sidewalks and am very proud.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that many people are using the sidewalks for 1)black market crime, 2) sleeping on all day and 3) as a public bathroom. I've heard homeless people complain about the sidewalks as well. It's time to take back the sidewalk as a place for people to walk on, not a dumping ground.

Posted by Guest Denise Jameson on May. 20, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

I'm very proud to be working on the Civil Sidwalks law. Much of the city has turned into a "cesspool" and needs to be cleaned up. Moreover, sidewalks should not be a business center for the black market, free beds, or a public bathroom.

Posted by GuestDenise Jameson on May. 20, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

On Monday, May 24, at 10:00 a.m., the supes’ Public Safety Committee will again take up the proposed Civil Sidewalks Law (formerly known as the Sit-Lie Law), meeting in the big legislative chamber at City Hall.

At the committee’s last meeting, Chris Daly, who is not a member of the committee, urged defeat of the measure, delivering a lengthy, foul-mouthed, angry tirade. Nonetheless, the committee voted to continue the matter until May 24.

The committee’s chair, David Chiu, will likely vote against the ordinance next Monday, along with Ross Mirkarimi, who represents the Haight. Bevan Dufty, who represents district eight, will likely vote in favor.

Mirkarimi has been negligent and inattentive on the issue. Some months ago, when meetings were first called at Park Police Station to discuss the emerging public safety crisis in the Haight, he failed to attend.

After Police Chief George Gascón first floated the idea of a sit-lie law, Mirkarimi failed to answer e-mails from his constituents asking about his views on the subject.

After Mayor Gavin Newsom formerly proposed the measure, Mirkarimi repeatedly scoffed at it. He says he prefers more foot patrols as the answer – ignoring the fact that the proposed law would make foot patrols more effective.

If the Haight had a champion at the board to stand up for its safety and well-being, this committee would pass the Civil Sidewalks Law. But such is not the case.

After Monday’s vote, the mayor will likely draw up an initiative to submit to the voters in November, which will probably pass.

The current scenario is following the precedent of the Care Not Cash initiative in 2002. The supes bungled the matter, and all the special interests were opposed to it, but the voters passed it anyway.

Let’s not be discouraged by the dysfunctionality and ineptitude of the supes but press ahead with faith in the good sense of the people of San Francisco. Working together, we can bring safety and civility back to our neighborhoods.

The right of the public to safe and civil sidewalks in San Francisco is an idea whose time has come.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 20, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

Arthur be careful what you wish for.

Sit Lie will cause people to stand up. Do you really want those same people STANDING UP?

Every day you'll be confronted by gangs of tired STANDING people dealing drugs, spitting, urinating and defecating on the sidewalks. Nothing will change but you'll make a lot of willful people with nothing to lose very very angry.

I sincerely hope that this law doesn't cause the Haight to descend into a daily pitch battle, mostly because we can't afford it when there's real crimes to prevent.

Lastly I wouldn't want to have my neighbors blaming me for falling house prices, shuttered businesses, and gangs of roaming STANDING angry spiteful entitled people.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2010 @ 10:09 am

In a post above, Guest says:

"Nothing will change."

That's what the opponents of Care Not Cash said, too. In fact, however, Care Not Cash improved the situation with the homeless. SF progressives opposed the measure, led by the foul-mouthed, loud opposition of Chris Daly. But they should have supported it.

The Civil Sidewalks Law represents an effort to secure the right of the public to civil and safe sidewalks in San Francisco. It should be supported in the name of progressive politics. But SF progressives are opposing it, led by the foul-mouthed, angry opposition of Chris Daly.

Some people never learn and, in fact, are hostile to learning. It's pointless to try and reason with them.

As Confucius once said:

"I do not enlighten those who are not eager to learn, nor arouse those who are not anxious to give an explanation themselves. If I have presented one corner of the square and they cannot come back to me with the other three, I should not go over the points again."

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 21, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

Arthur, to compare Sit / Lie to Care not Cash is to do a great injustice to both. You're assuming I opposed it. I did not.

Sit / Lie is more readily likened to Frank Jordan's Matrix "NIMBY" Law.

The point stands that this law will more than likely exacerbate not resolve the problem.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

My subject paraphrases today's speech in congress by the President of Mexico criticizing Arizona's recent immigration law. He received a standing ovation from the congress.

It also seems very appropriate for Haight-Ashbury's perceived problems.

There appears to be a complete absence of understanding as to the attraction of Haight-Ashbury for the people that travel thousands of miles to congregate in the cold, rain and fog.

Haight-Asbury "whether you like it or not" is Mecca for many of this country's disenfranchised, abused, bored, miscreant and lost people - both young and old. Be they addicts, pushers, runaways or people simply looking for a connection. You can blame the past, the hippys, the gays, the head-shop owners, the lack of law enforcement, the lack of will - but you cannot deny the attraction.

Introducing a law to prevent them sitting or laying on the sidewalk will do nothing to remove the attraction of the area. To think otherwise is simply delusional.

The only way to resolve the issues on Haight Street is remove its attraction. A new law won't do that, in fact it may well back-fire and increase the attraction for some who feel driven to keep whatever imagined "spirit of rebellion" they believe the area still holds, alive and kicking.

Pushing the problem around (literally) is akin to driving it underground, it didn't work for Frank Jordan's Matrix program and is likely to exacerbate the problem.

How you remove the attraction is probably something best left to the merchants and residents of Haight-Ashbury to decide. Perhaps some don't want that attraction removed. New York City managed to "disneyfy" 42nd Street, so perhaps that's the answer.

A modest proposal for you Mr. Evans:

Change the Haight into a disneyfied theme-park version of itself. Close all the head-shops, the music stores, the cool clothing stores, the bars, cheap food joints, Ben and Jerrys, Goodwill. But don't stop there - close down the entrance to Golden Gate Park and remove every single pleasant aspect of life that could possibly attract anyone who isn't a resident to that area.

Is that the kind of neighborhood you want to live in?

Posted by Brendan McCann on May. 21, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

The actions and comments by opponents of the Civil Sidewalks Law are becoming ever more extreme and silly.

Yesterday, Tommi Avicolli Mecca announced that there would be an interfaith service in the Castro in memory of Harvey Milk and his alleged struggle against the current law.

Never mind that Harvey was an atheist. Never mind that the law he opposed was an anti-standing law, not just an anti-sitting law.

Also yesterday, the NY Times published an article on the matter, featuring Starchild as the face of the opposition to the Civil Sidewalks Law. Dee -licious.

And at the last meeting of the supes' Public Safety Committee, Chris Daly had one of his foul-mouthed testosterone fits when delivering a diatribe against the measure. The committee would have voted the measure down then and there, but they wanted to distance themselves from Daly.

All of which is reminiscent of the goofy and excessive behavior on the part of the opponents of Care Not Cash some years ago. The same groups acted out and got the supes to fumble the matter.

It went ot the voters. Remember the result?

The right of the public to safe and civil sidewalks in San Franciso is an idea whose time has come. All the goofy acting-out by the usual suspects will not be able to stop it.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 23, 2010 @ 9:34 am

For someone advocating civility Arthur, you spend a awful lot of time engaged in Schadenfreude and way too much time talking about Chris Daly's testosterone levels.

How about actually answering the questions posed to you about the specific case law regarding your claim that SFPD cannot move people without a written complaint in the many comments here instead of regurgitating the same boring cut 'n paste platitudes?

Civility is a two-way street (pardon the pun) and you sir still have to earn yours.

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2010 @ 11:08 am

It's odd that you can keep using Arthur's history of posts in your personal attacks and yet are too, well, cowardly to return the favor.

Posted by glen matlock on May. 24, 2010 @ 1:16 am

As far as I can tell most of this stuff is pure troll bait and rants.

Posted by Old School Internet User on May. 24, 2010 @ 9:21 am

Thank you for your post above, Guest.

You say:

"the questions posed to you about the specific case law regarding your claim that SFPD cannot move people without a written complaint..."

We've gone over this matter again and again.

Please look at the video of the last meeting of the Public Safety Committee. Assistant D.A. Paul Henderson testified that the SF courts understand General Order 6.11 of the Police Commission as requiring a civilian complaint before the police can lawfully direct sidewalk squatters to move along.

Henderson is the one who prosecutes such cases. He knows what the courts require.

You may disagree with both General Order 6.11 and the courts' understanding of it. Fine, but they are the reality of the law.

In addition, General Order 6.11 flaty states: "A street or a sidewalk cannot be obstructed, only a person."

This declaration is an absurdity. It ignores the turf problem. That is, packs of migratory addicts and alcoholics squat on sidewalks, making them their turf, even at times when residents are not present.

The addicts and alcoholics use this turf as their geographical basis for a host of illegal and destructive activities.

Please stop ignoring the reality of the practice of the courts and the reality of the absurdity of the General Orders.

The Civil Sidewalks Laws corrects the practice and the absurdity.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 23, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

To quote from below. Which is it Arthur? It can't be both.

Arthur Says:
"Please look at the video of the last meeting of the Public Safety Committee. Assistant D.A. Paul Henderson testified that the SF courts understand General Order 6.11 of the Police Commission as requiring a civilian complaint before the police can lawfully direct sidewalk squatters to move along.

Henderson is the one who prosecutes such cases. He knows what the courts require."

Reponse:
Its actually Mr. King who said it hoping that Mr. Henderson will back up his presentation - which he doesn't under serious examination by Supe Campos:

Supervisor campos: I want to follow-up with Mr. King, if I May. i think you just heard the exchange where assistant chief cashman indicated that in his reading of 6.11 that there is no requirement that a victim come for for the police to act.

Do you agree with that assessment?

>> I think the appropriate thing to sort this out is to hear from paul henderson of the district attorney' s office who is right behind -- hold on, let me finish please. the situation you described where you have I' m standing here and someone standing next to me, the issue is if someone were looking at us from across the room, how would an officer no that one of us is being obstructed? Another issue, in the hypothetical that you raised is, you are assuming the police are there to witness the interaction, which is not always the case.

It is important -- I did not catch the full answer, but it is important that there are two different standards. i do not think it is a matter of reading. I do agree with you that it is an issue often concluded or not expressed clearly because the shorthand that people say is a citizen' s arrest is required -- it is an issue that is often conflated.

Supervisor campos: I am more than happy to hear at some point, Mr. Henderson. He is a very capable attorney, and I know he can give a lot of information, but I am asking you, do you agree that under general order 6.11 that there is no requirement that a victim come forward for the police to act?

>> I do not have it in front of me.

supervisor campos: I would imagine that you probably read

it before. >> I have.

this is consistent, and the city attorney' s opinion is consistent with the same reading that you have from the lawyers committee for the civil rights.
It is consistent that -- where they say, on page 5 of their 52- page brief or a memo or description that, "police officers issuing citations for sidewalk obstruction violation should attempt to identify but at least describe those persons who were obstructed by the defendant."

supervisor campos: does it say there that a witness is required?

>> no, but it does not have to.

Supervisor campos: why not? Can explain that?

>> I do not see why paul henderson cannot.

Posted by E.E. Schmitz on Jun. 02, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

I've looked at the video and read the transcript and I cannot find Mr. Henderson's testimony to that fact. Chief Cashman refutes it.

Can you point to the specific statement? thanks.

http://sanfrancisco.granicus.com/TranscriptViewer.php?view_id=44&clip_id...

It seems also that Mr Nevius interprets the testimony differently

He's got that right. While the progressives came in full of fire, members of the police force and the mayor's representatives were caught hemming and hawing. Supervisor David Campos, a Harvard law grad and former deputy city attorney, had Nicolas King, public safety policy adviser for the mayor, squirming when he demanded to be shown where, in current law, it is stated that officers must have a witness or a complaint to enforce an order to get up from the sidewalk and move on. And Deputy Police Chief Kevin Cashman wasn't any better.

It seems incomprehensible that the moderates would be taken by surprise by these tactics. They have been employed over and over, from issues such as the Community Justice Center to Care Not Cash.

And frankly, there was nothing wrong with what Campos did. The opposition has been making the point that the sit/lie law isn't needed, that current laws just need to be enforced. The mayor's office should have been prepared to defend it.

It seems pretty simple. If the police really have the ability to move these people, they'd do it. No one wants to get the punks off the sidewalk more than they do. The idea that they are somehow refusing to enforce the law is ridiculous.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/05/11/BAC41DC9NL.D...

Posted by Curious Reader on May. 24, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

Mr Henderson does not state in his testimony that complaints require a civilian complaint. He states that he's aware of the Orders and goes on to say that the DA's have never had a complaint about that from SFPD.

Arthur Evans uses a linguist and semantic tongue-twister here to conceal that fact.

"Please look at the video of the last meeting of the Public Safety Committee. Assistant D.A. Paul Henderson testified that the SF courts understand General Order 6.11 of the Police Commission as requiring a civilian complaint before the police can lawfully direct sidewalk squatters to move along.

Henderson is the one who prosecutes such cases. He knows what the courts require."

Its actually Mr. King who said it hoping that Mr. Henderson will back up his presentation - which he doesn't under serious examination by Supe Campos:

Supervisor campos: I want to follow-up with Mr. King, if I May. i think you just heard the exchange where assistant chief cashman indicated that in his reading of 6.11 that there is no requirement that a victim come for for the police to act.

Do you agree with that assessment?

>> I think the appropriate thing to sort this out is to hear from paul henderson of the district attorney' s office who is right behind -- hold on, let me finish please. the situation you described where you have I' m standing here and someone standing next to me, the issue is if someone were looking at us from across the room, how would an officer no that one of us is being obstructed? Another issue, in the hypothetical that you raised is, you are assuming the police are there to witness the interaction, which is not always the case.

It is important -- I did not catch the full answer, but it is important that there are two different standards. i do not think it is a matter of reading. I do agree with you that it is an issue often concluded or not expressed clearly because the shorthand that people say is a citizen' s arrest is required -- it is an issue that is often conflated.

Supervisor campos: I am more than happy to hear at some point, Mr. Henderson. He is a very capable attorney, and I know he can give a lot of information, but I am asking you, do you agree that under general order 6.11 that there is no requirement that a victim come forward for the police to act?

>> I do not have it in front of me.

supervisor campos: I would imagine that you probably read

it before. >> I have.

this is consistent, and the city attorney' s opinion is consistent with the same reading that you have from the lawyers committee for the civil rights.
It is consistent that -- where they say, on page 5 of their 52- page brief or a memo or description that, "police officers issuing citations for sidewalk obstruction violation should attempt to identify but at least describe those persons who were obstructed by the defendant."

supervisor campos: does it say there that a witness is required?

>> no, but it does not have to.

Supervisor campos: why not? Can explain that?

>> I do not see why paul henderson cannot.

Posted by TheLaw on May. 25, 2010 @ 10:34 am