No surprise: The Chron hates Ammiano's homeless bill


Why should I be surprised? Assemblymember Tom Ammiano tried to introduce a bill providing some basic human rights for homeless people, and the Chron lashes out with a nasty editorial that misses the entire point.

Ammiano's AB 5 was crafted with the help of homeless advocacy groups, and it's really not that radical a proposal. It would simply guarantee some basic human rights to people who don't have a permanent place to live. It would, for example, forbid employment discrimination against homeless people in employment, public services and voting. It would enshrine in law the right of all people to use public space, including as a place to rest, and would establish that 24-hour access to bathrooms and showers is a basic human right.It would protect the rights of homeless children to attend school. It would guarantee homeless people cited under laws that could lead to criminal sanctions the right to a lawyer.

It would also bar local authorities from forcing people into shelters or other programs without their consent and would guarantee equal treatment from law-enforcement.

Oh, and it would prevent local laws that bar homeless people from occupying vehicles that are legally parked, and precent authorities from taking away the personal property of homeless people.

But to read the Chron's editorial, you'd think the world was coming to an end:

A bill that asserts an individual's right to urinate, sleep and panhandle wherever he wants is neither compassionate nor wise. To pass it would be to surrender our streets and parks to misery, chaos and squalor.

Misery, chaos and squalor? Whoa. As if the lives of homeless people are not already, in many cases, marked by those characteristics.

And really, the bill doesn't talk about the right to "urinate wherever he wants;" it mandates that cities provide accessible bathroom facilities so people don't have to urinate on the streets. "It's not a good idea or even healthy to have a law that says you can piss or shit wherever you want," Pauld Boden, director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, told me. "So having 24-hour access to hygiene centers is a way better alternative."

But of course, Boden said, opponents of the law "are going to try to make it all about urination and defecation. It's a way to dehumanize people."

I don't understand what's wrong with asserting that homeless people have the same human rights as the rest of us. If this undermines bad laws like sit-lie and care not cash, so be it; in a rich state, we can and should do better. (But even the Chron's own reporter says the bill won't undermine SF's sit-lie law).

Ammiano's moving forward with the bill, expecting amendments and open to discussion. But as far as the Chron's editorial goes, he told me" "It reminds me of Robin Williams' comment about a bad review he got '' 'I was going to have a chicken shit on it, but that would be redundant.;"

UPDATE: If you want to see a comparison of the current anti-homeless laws to the "ugly laws," the Jim Crow laws and a lot of other stuff we all now agree was wrong, check it out here (pdf)


Regarding the photo above, did Tom Ammiano have his eyes surgically removed?

Posted by Chromefields on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 11:45 am

Ammiano's eyes are where Rob Black's teeth are:

Posted by marcos on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 11:58 am

Well done.

Posted by Chromefields on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

But Chromefields reproduces asexually, and will therefore breed his own generation of mass murderers in a process that involves industrial solvents and copious mucus. But it's kind of neat that Eddie spends so much time watching the homeless mate and void waste. Only in SF!

Posted by Chromefields on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 11:54 am

I think we need to decide whether we think it's OK to live outside once and for all.

Posted by Hortencia on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

Just not naked.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

I used to think homeless advocates really wanted to get everyone housed, but now I'm not so sure. I think that if we put a system into place where everyone really had an opportunity to be housed, there would be no reason for anyone to be homeless, and therefore it would be socially unacceptable and likely illegal. What I think at least some homeless advocates want is it to be OK and easier to be homeless if you choose to be.

Posted by Hortencia on Dec. 10, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

homeless e.g. those who run SRO's and the various poverty pimps like Randy Shaw who has made millions by supposedly "helping" the homeless just enough to keep his paychecks coming in but not enough to actually solve the problem.

Homelessness in SF is a multi-million dollar business.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

Why is it that so many commenters focus on the 1% of homeless people with annoying habits rather that the majority who either have or are looking for work, keep their families together, & don't bother a soul? That would require actually getting outside of your bubble to know that.

Posted by WTF on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

Something has to be done, Homeless Bill of Rights is not the answer, I try to avoid the city at times. Last time I was there, took my girlfriend parents to dinner, nice place, while eating, homeless guy look at us, pulled his pants down and took a dump.

I am all for fixing problems with homeless, treatment, housing leading up to homes, better conditions. But sometimes you have to take a stern but caring drive to help them.

Showers would help, place so they can brush their teeth, laundry, but they have to step up the plate too. Respect the city and the others of the city. Keep the city clean.

Posted by Garrett on Dec. 11, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

So the homeless are not part of the City and your admonishment that we respect the city does not apply to these aliens?

Posted by marcos on Dec. 11, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

You are despicable Tim. I hope you end up with a dozen homeless people at your front door step with poo and pee to greet you every morning! :)

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:11 am

They would much rather tell other people that they should help them.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:21 am

I would much rather pay taxes so that people with more expertise in the area than I could do that work.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:34 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 30, 2013 @ 10:46 am

It is shocking how many Americans are one or two missing paychecks away from living in a cheap used RV typically over 7' in height. This is already illegal in SF.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 24, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

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