SF supes to take up anti-loitering law in Haight

February 28, 2010 6:41:25 PM PST
San Francisco politicians are poised to crack down on crime along Haight Street.

Supervisors will take up a new anti-loitering law Monday. It is called a "sit and lie law" and it would make it easier for police to arrest people who sit on Haight Street.

The ordinance would target people like those often seen sitting on sidewalks, asking others for money. But, on Sunday Haight Street was mostly full of shoppers and strollers, not people who were loitering.

That s the point critics of the ordinance make. They say the current laws are working fine to keep people moving. Those who want the sit and lie ordinance say the homeless on Haight Street can be abusive and aggressive. They do not think it is good for business or people who live here.

But, the homeless say they are harmless.

"I understand if there was a problem," said a man who goes by the name of Ace. "But, if we're not causing a problem and we're not in anyone's way, I don't see why we can't occupy a square of sidewalk and try to get by and exist, to co-exist, with people from all over the world."

"We're not trying to criminalize the homeless. We're trying to make sure that we have the authority in the hands of the police to deal with people who have no respect for civil behavior, for lawful behavior, and who think nothing of beating up people on our street," said another man.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom recently moved into a house in the area. He told the San Francisco Chronicle he was walking with his daughter on Haight when he saw someone doing drugs. He was previously hesitant to support the sit and lie ordinance before, but now he says he is ready to back it.

There will be a hearing Monday before San Francisco's safety committee. Those who support the ordinance do not expect the board of supervisors to vote for it, which is why they are hoping to get it on the ballot before November, so the people can decide.