Sitting boundaries - Page 2

Strong police push for the proposed sit/lie ordinance raises eyebrows

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People sitting and lying on sidewalks is "a really, really big problem, especially in the crime-ridden areas," Villa-Lobos said. "God bless the homeless, but it's a big problem there too." Several years ago, his organization tried to mount a campaign for a sit/lie ordinance, but it didn't go anywhere. "People came out and said we were trying to violate civil rights," he said.

The Community Leadership Alliance is active in the Tenderloin, SoMa, and the mid-Market Street area, and the group occasionally holds monthly meetings at the Infusion Lounge, an upscale nightclub owned by Scott Caroen, the chair of the organization.

Gascón worked with deputy city attorneys to draft the ordinance and all district police stations have submitted to their commanders a list of areas that they feel could benefit from the law, according to a Tenderloin district newsletter. Mirkarimi told the Guardian that some supervisors were kept in the dark for weeks about the fact that an ordinance had been drafted. "This wasn't collaborative at all," Mirkarimi told us. "We never received it until we demanded to see it."

The Haight-Ashbury, where residents and visitors have been complaining about harassment from wayward traveling youth, has been ground zero for discussion about a sit/lie ordinance. A small group of irate residents there and the Park Station Capt. Teresa Barrett have rallied in support of the law, saying it would give police a new tool to target these disruptive street kids.

But it's clear that the ordinance's supporters want to see it applied broadly and to be used to roust the homeless in neighborhoods throughout the city.

"CLA feels that our sidewalks should be enjoyable and a place of social gathering, and that the ordinance could go a long way in helping our neighborhoods feel safer," reads the Community Leadership Alliance alert that was included in the police captain's newsletter. "It may also reduce the overall homeless population in San Francisco by discouraging people from coming to the city to beg for money."