Today I do what few can in San Francisco – piss off everyone on all sides of the political spectrum. That’s because today I strongly suggest you vote a big NO on both Proposition L (the so-called “sit/lie” law) and Proposition M (the so-called foot patrol law). And, I’m not against it for the reasons most opponents cite. So everyone gets to be mad.
Prop. L is a bogus law simply because it won’t change anything, while M is one of those poison pill measures designed solely to block another measure (i.e. L) that I can’t stand. Both are examples of a dysfunctional political system that values scoring political points and spending a lot of money on dead tree mail and political ads all over the place.
So why is “Sit/Lie” so bogus?
First off, let’s get one thing out of the way that is apparently The Biggest Problem In The Entire City: Those Damn Upper Haight Street Punks. Now, I am not one of these bleeding hearts that think these poor dears just need more hugs and handouts to be good little children. (If anything they need a swift kick in the ass and a bath).
Most of these kids are from the suburbs or flyover country who want to live like aggro bums and got the notion that Upper Haight was the most hospitable to their plans. For the most part they are not kids kicked out of the house because the Admiral didn’t like them or something serious. And yes, they’re jerks. I’m not going to defend them and I fully believe the SFPD and concerned citizens should bring the hammer down on ’em.
Therein lies the problem. See, if you don’t report crimes to the police, the police will not go after the bad people. If you see someone smoking crack (Mr. Mayor, are you listening), YOU CALL THE POLICE AND REPORT THEIR ASSES. Then the police do this thing called “arresting people and putting them in jail.” Then the District Attorney does this thing called “prosecuting criminals.” Other cities have figured this out and it seems to work.
It does not work in San Francisco, because here, people don’t report crimes, the police usually cite and release folks, or “give ’em a warning,” and our pretty DA, Kamala Harris simply does not believe in prosecuting criminals.
Would a “sit/lie” law change any of this? Absolutely not.
So passing this will make a few people in Upper Haight feel good, we’ll be saddled with a law that will not be enforced, and NOTHING will change. (Unless someone brings back the Committee on Vigilance, which is highly unlikely.)
Now, the flip side of this law: the Unintended Consequences. Trust me there will be many. If some kids are sitting on the sidewalk playing, they could just as easily be cited as anyone else. If my neighbors and I decided to enjoy the rehabbed benches and sidewalks of our block, we could be cited. The proponents say “oh that won’t happen” but we all know how NIMBY-esque people can be, and I can assure you some prissy NIMBY-ite will bring down the hammer on a couple of folks sitting in front of their garage during a garage sale if they want to. This IS San Francisco after all.
“Doesn’t lefty Santa Cruz have some law? What’s the big deal?” you ask. Yes, they have something similar to Prop. L, but when you look closer, it’s really not the same thing at all. That’s because unlike in Upper Haight, the merchants on Pacific Avenue pay into a fund that has staff out there first leading off with the carrot (offer of help and services to those on the street) backed up with the stick (the police will move people along). It also only applies to the business district. Will this law have anything like that?
No. Because the Haight Street folks don’t want to spend any money to do this. So basically nothing proactive will be done to prevent the problem from forming – we’re just going to have to hope that people will do their jobs and bust people. Look how well that’s worked in the past.
Remember the “Aggressive Panhandling” law? Not enforced as promised. Remember the “Matrix” program under Frank Jordan? FAIL. How about all those business doorways with the “request for enforcement” of the No Trespassing law? FAIL.
Finally, let’s take a look at a serious situation that was only recently noticed by the Chronicle (despite being a problem for years!) – the case of the crazy tattooed chick on Irving Street who routinely committed assaults on people – and yet was never held accountable for her crimes. The SFPD simply wrote her tickets and sent her on her merry way, she bounced around expensive homeless services, and continued to commit more crimes – and the DA didn’t do a damned thing.
This went on for years, and all the well-paid public employees simply wouldn’t stop this person from hurting others. Would a “sit/lie” law have done anything to stop this? No, it wouldn’t, because you see this crazy chick was hurting people while standing up.
Until voters in San Francisco decide to elect DA’s for more than a pretty face and high minded liberal rhetoric, and are willing to report crimes to the police, and have a police force that has the backing of said voters to actually enforce the law, NOTHING HAPPENS, “sit/lie” or not.
As for Proposition M? This is just another political game – when someone puts something on the ballot, the Other Side puts up a competing measure with a poison pill that negates the other (in this case Prop. L) if it gets more votes.
This is wasting taxpayer money for political cheap shots, and won’t do anything productive if passed. Vote NO and tell the Board of Supervisors to lay off the endless empty “nonbinding resolutions” and start working with people to get things done. Play time is over – there’s a major recession killing our city and we need to deal with it.
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