When I wrote several pieces saying the proposed “sit/lie” law was an bogus piece of unnecessary legislation, people got upset.
Apparently pointing out the fact this law was as useless as all the other laws we’ve passed to “get tough on the homeless” have been made people uncomfortable for some reason. I even noted how one could easily clean up Upper Haight (or anywhere, but during the campaign the debate centered solely on an overpriced neighborhood that attracts a bad element) with existing resources and laws. Or, bring back the Committee on Vigilance, if that doesn’t help. (Hey, it worked in the past!)
Folks didn’t like that, and I got a lot of nasty mail saying I was pro-criminal hippie gutter punk or some such nonsense. Which is not true, as I pointed out many ways that one could use existing laws to put law breakers in jail, but no one wanted to talk about that.
This is S.O.P. for SF politics – put “feel good” measures on the ballot, get everyone all riled up to think this is either The Big Thing That Will Solve All Problems, or The Worst Thing Ever To Happen to Humanity, have lots of well-funded antagonism clog your mailbox. Newspapers get to print Big Headlines and pundits get to drone on and on, and consultants make the big bucks!
Meanwhile, nothing really changes. I think pointing out that is what annoyed folks the most!
So, reading today in the Chronicle that the SFPD is still not enforcing the law because of vague concerns about “training” and appeasing the pro-Upper Haight punk lobby or whatever just validated every criticism I had of this useless law.
Sure, CW Nevius and the pro “sit/lie” folks got their Election Day victory, and for about 5 minutes could say that voters “did something.” Today, however, we find that nothing has changed at all – there are still gutter punks in Upper Haight, there are still homeless people begging for change on sidewalks, and it’s a safe bet than in a year from now, aside from adding more lines to the law books, very little will be any different than it was a year ago.
San Francisco needs to make it harder to get things on the ballot, or its electorate needs to think more before signing petitions. Just because something sounds good doesn’t mean anything will change. Better to use the many, many laws and expensive resources on hand to make our city the best it can be.
UPDATE: A little short of a month later, the Examiner ran this story about the sh*storm in Upper Haight, as the SFPD doesn’t enforce the law, the “punks” are worse than ever, and nothing has changed (aside from a pricey chain store moving in across from a McDonalds.) Super #FAIL.
PS: Lower Haight still rocks. I’m glad I don’t spend my money or time in the Upper Haight, though!
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