Gascon, supes at odds over sit-lie ordinance

May 25, 2010 2:28:07 PM PDT
San Francisco Supervisors held another hearing on a controversial proposal to ban people from sitting or lying on city sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Mayor Gavin Newsom proposed the measure after numerous complaints from residents in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

His ban would be citywide. Even though city lawmakers continue to debate its merits, Newsom has decided to bypass them and take his proposal directly to the people. He will let voters decide in November if they want the ban.

Newsom is taking this move because it does not appear he has much support from the board. A recent poll by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce found overwhelming support with 71 percent of those surveyed for the prohibition.

At this morning's hearing, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi called the Mayor's idea "half-baked" and said "there are already three dozen laws on the books" to address bad behavior. Supervisor David Campos said the ban would prohibit children selling cookies and lemonade on the sidewalk.

But SFPD Chief George Gascon disagrees.

"We have laws that deal with blocking sidewalks. There are laws for trespassing and certainly for assaulting people, but the behaviors here that we are trying to deal with and the tools we have were inappropriate," he said.

Gascon is supporting a new organization called the Civil Sidewalks Coalition, which hopes to help build support for the sit-lie ban.

It's not just the Haight. Merchants on Larkin Street are also complaining.

"I have customers who say 'hey, I just ran the gauntlet to come in here,' so I think its hurting business," a business owner said.

The supervisors forwarded the mayor's proposal to the full board for a vote, but the big vote is likely to come in November.


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