Haaland to Introduce DCCC Resolution Opposing Sit/Lie

Written by FCJ Editor. Posted in Politics

Published on April 10, 2010 with 12 Comments

A resolution opposing a proposed Sit/Lie ordinance will be introduced by Gabriel Haaland at a meeting of the DCCC, April 21.

By Gabriel Haaland

April 10, 2010

Below is a resolution I will be introducing at the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee. Please come and lend your support on Wednesday, April 21, 6PM, State Building on Golden Gate Avenue.

Whereas in the 70s, the City passed a law which banned sitting or lying down on city sidewalks in response to a call to remove hippies who were sitting on sidewalks in the Haight District of San Francisco, and whereas law enforcement personal ultimately selectively used these powers primarily against mostly gay men who were sitting on sidewalks in the Castro District, usually outside of bars (which lead to an incident in 1974, wherein City law enforcement personnel beat up a young gay man outside of a bar in the Castro, and arrested 18 others for “obstructing” the sidewalk). The gay community, led by Harvey Milk, rallied to their cause and against police harassment. One year subsequent to Harvey Milk’s death, the sit-lie law was found to be unconstitutional.

Whereas, the sit/lie law currently proposed will not prevent obstruction of sidewalks or harassment of passersby, as it’s already illegal to block the sidewalk and harass pedestrians and this legislation will not solve longstanding, complex problems and City Hall has openly and repeatedly admitted in the press that the criminal justice system is failing to deal with similar issues in the Tenderloin, and has created an alternative known as the Community Justice Court that is founded on principles of Restorative Justice;

Whereas a process known as Restorative Circles, a method based in Restorative Justice that has been used in the favelas (or shantytowns) of Rio De Janeiro, where drug gangs are the main employers of youth and homicide is the most common cause of death for people under the age of 25, unlike incarceration, has resulted in reduced recidivism and high rates of satisfaction by all parties, and has been embraced as an effective strategy.

Therefore Be it resolved, the San Francisco Democratic Party urges the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor to oppose incarceration for non-violent crimes and explore successful alternatives to incarceration, specifically the Restorative Circles Process; and

Be it further resolved, the San Francisco Democratic Party urges the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor to immediately prioritize funding for homeless youth programs to restore funding for youth employment, programs, and housing.

"If you want people off the street, give them a place to live!"

Sponsored by Gabriel Robert Haaland, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, Supervisor David Campos, Supervisor Chris Daly, Supervisor Eric Mar, Aaron Peskin, Hene Kelly, Rafael Mandelman, Michael Goldstein, Joe Julian, Jane Morrison, Jake McGoldrick, Michael Bornstein, Debra Walker

DCCC candidates John Avalos and Alix Rosenthal also sponsor this resolution.

  • Ruth R. Snave

    Thank you, Gabriel Haaland, for contributing to the ongoing dialog about the proposed sit-lie law.

    I appreciate the fact that you address yourself to the issues at hand and avoid the ad hominem slanders that have typified the comments of many of the law’s opponents, especially on the chatboard maintained by the SF Bay Guardian.

    Some comments follow.

    You say:

    “in the 70s, the City passed a law which banned sitting or lying down on city sidewalks in response to a call to remove hippies who were sitting on sidewalks in the Haight District of San Francisco”

    Your source? What was the text of the this former law? What did it have in common with the current law? How did it differ?

    You say:

    “law enforcement personal ultimately selectively used these powers primarily against mostly gay men who were sitting on sidewalks in the Castro District”

    Your source? How often was it used against gay men? Was it used against gay men because they were gay? Or were there behavior problems? More details, please.

    You say:

    “which lead to an incident in 1974, wherein City law enforcement personnel beat up a young gay man outside of a bar in the Castro, and arrested 18 others for ‘obstructing’ the sidewalk”

    Your source? Do you have more details about this incident?

    You say:

    “One year subsequent to Harvey Milk’s death, the sit-lie law was found to be unconstitutional.”

    Which court found it to be unconstitutional? What was the reasoning of the court? Where can we read the decision?

    You say:

    “the sit/lie law currently proposed will not prevent obstruction of sidewalks or harassment of passersby, as it’s already illegal to block the sidewalk and harass pedestrians”

    SF police may not legally direct sidewalk blockers to move along unless there is a formal complaint by a civilian. To the best of my knowledge, no other city in CA has this extra requirement.

    This extra requirement is not the result of state law or city law. It’s the result of two General Orders of the Police Commission. They were created as part of a court settlement.

    Will you recommend to the DCCC that these two General Orders be repealed?

    I tried to do so in the mid 90s, and the Police Commission refused.

    You say:

    “City Hall has openly and repeatedly admitted in the press that the criminal justice system is failing to deal with similar issues in the Tenderloin, and has created an alternative known as the Community Justice Court that is founded on principles of Restorative Justice”

    Didn’t the progressives on the DCCC opposed the Community Justice Court? Wasn’t Chris Daly the most vocal of them all?

    Have the progressives had a change of heart on this issue?

    You say:

    “Whereas a process known as Restorative Circles, a method based in Restorative Justice that has been used in the favelas (or shantytowns) of Rio De Janeiro”

    This model may have some merit. But as it now stands, it’s vague, distant, and few people know many details about it. In the meantime, the public safety crisis caused by the city’s migratory addicts and alcoholics continues. It won’t do to continue to ignore it.

    You say:

    “Therefore Be it resolved, the San Francisco Democratic Party urges the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor to oppose incarceration for non-violent crimes”

    The proposed law specifies that there shall be warnings only for first time offenders, not incarceration. The sheriff, who runs the jails, has stated that he doubts there will be any increase in the jail population because of the law. Its purpose is merely to give police street patrols the authority to direct sidewalk squatters to move along, without the necessity of first having a formal civilian complaint.

    You say:

    “Be it further resolved, the San Francisco Democratic Party urges the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor to immediately prioritize funding for homeless youth programs to restore funding for youth employment, programs, and housing.”

    You’re missing the point. The problem is not the lack of services. The Haight already has one of the highest concentration of services in the city.

    Many of the migratory addicts and alcoholics refuse services. They are part of toxic subculture that is based on addiction and territoriality. They are on the verge of gang formation.

    What is needed is control over abusive and violent behavior for the sake of neighborhood well-being.

    You say:

    “DCCC candidates John Avalos and Alix Rosenthal also sponsor this resolution.”

    Is this the same Alix Rosenthal who said she wanted to make SF more “freaky” when she ran for supervisor (and lost)?

    Do you share that goal of hers?

  • You say:
    “Please come and lend your support on Monday, April 21, 6PM”

    April 21 is Wednesday. Is the meeting Monday, April 19 or Wednesday, April 21?

    To the point: this is aimed at criminal transient punks with pitbulls threatening the residents, businesses and anyone who happens to walk down the street.

    Its typical of “progressives” to side with the punks to the detriment of the taxpaying citizens and businesses.

  • The meeting is Wednesday, April 21 @ 6pm, Howard. Thanks for pointing out the error, now corrected.

  • Rob Anderson

    Conflating this issue with gay rights and homelessness is also typical of city progs. SF lefties are still in denial in how badly they handled the homeless issue. They were still supporting Food Not Bombs and the pie-throwers when Gavin Newsom proposed Care Not Cash, which grateful city voters passed and elected Newsom mayor primarily because of his recognition of the growing squalor on our streets.

    City progs are still characterizing Care Not Cash as an attack on poor people, even though that and other city programs on homelessness are clearly having some success. See for example the City Controller’s report on Care Not Cash:
    http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/controller/reports/CareNotCash_20080430.pdf

  • The Haight Ashbury Improvement Association’s rep said, on the BBC, that SIT/LIE was needed to control “violent thugs who spat on babies” in the Upper Haight? What’re we gonna do about that if it doesn’t pass?

  • Jerry Jarvis

    San Francisco is the only place I have ever been that removes seating then complain when people set on the sidewalk. Or complain when people pee and poo in the streets and not put into place a toilet. And as always the same solutions,are to make a “forbidding law”.

  • Ruth R. Snave

    I see the migratory addicts and alcoholics of the Haight crapping and pissing on the sidewalk when there is a free public toilet one block away.

    I see them sitting on the sidewalk, throwing garbage everywhere, while they are propping their backs up against a public trash can.

    I see them being offered recovery services, and the they refuse, again and again.

    Alcoholics and addicts commonly cause great injury to themselves, each other, and their environments. It’s total folly to deny the reality of this fact.

    Care is necessary, but so is control, for everybody’s sake.

  • Jerry Jarvis

    And there is already a “forbidding laws” in place for that Ruth. And as to your account it still happens.

  • Ruth R. Snave

    In a post above, Jerry says: “And there is already a ‘forbidding laws’ in place for that Ruth.”

    The problem is with actual enforcement, which is why a sit-lie law is needed. Let me explain.

    The migratory addicts and alcoholics of the Haight are territorial. They colonize public spaces for their turf. These they use as bases for drug-dealing and all the other things mentioned above.

    The catch is that police foot-patrols in SF cannot legally direct sidewalk squatters to move along unless there is a formal complaint from a civilian. No other city in CA has this civilian-based requirement.

    People are reluctant to file formal complaints because of possible retribution, especially business owners, whose establishments are sitting ducks. The squatters know what the restriction on the cops is and have become increasingly difficult to dislodge.

    This restriction is the result of two arcane General Orders passed by the Police Commission in the early 90s. They resulted from a court settlement, so the Commission cannot unilaterally rescind them. I know, because I already tried that route in the mid-90s.

    A reasonable solution to this tangle is the proposed sit-lie law. It’s modest, in that it specifies that the police shall gave first-time offenders a warning only, with no penalties.

    It’s based on a Seattle law whose constitutionality was upheld by the Ninth Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes SF.

    I’m open to a better solution if someone can come up with one. But it’s no solution at all to deny that the problem exists. And it’s certainly no solution to demonize people for calling attention to the problem, as has occurred on the chatboard for SF Bay Guardian.

  • Jerry Jarvis

    The solution is to enforce the already existing laws, You don’t need an noise ordnance to enforce the disturbing of the peace. But San Francisco does. The sit/lie law isn’t going to stop what ever it is you want stopped. Instead of sitting they will kneel. 10B is another solution.

  • Ruth R. Snave

    Thank you, Jerry, for your thoughts above. Some responses follow.

    You say:

    “The solution is to enforce the already existing laws.”

    As noted earlier, the existing law against blocking the sidewalk is difficult to enforce because of the requirement of having a formal civilian complaint. The sit-lie law would close this loophole in the law.

    You say:

    “You don’t need an noise ordnance to enforce the disturbing of the peace. But San Francisco does.”

    What do you mean by the above two sentences?

    You say:

    “The sit/lie law isn’t going to stop what ever it is you want stopped.”

    The sit-lie law will make it possible for street foot-patrols to do their jobs more effectively.

    There are some who support street foot-patrols but who oppose the sit-lie law. That’s like driving a car with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake.

    You say:

    “10B is another solution.”

    What do you mean by the above sentence?

  • Ruth R. Snave

    In a post above, I asked some questions of Gabriel Haaland concerning the details in his opposition to the proposed sit-lie law. So far, no response.

    Haaland is a lawyer. He knows that a responsible lawyer should make good on details when making an argument against something.

    I hope we hear the details soon.

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