Street view

Young beggars on Haight Street discuss proposed sit-lie ordinance

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A panhandler named Kasper said young travelers have always been fixtures on Haight Street

By Skyler Swezy

news@sfbg.com

The Haight-Ashbury is out-of-control, according to some recent news reports and testimony by cops and other backers of the proposed sit-lie ordinance. They report street toughs brazenly smoking crack, blocking sidewalks, spitting on babies, and intimidating citizens with pit bulls.

As this story goes, dangerous thugs have replaced harmless beggars. They've gone from annoying to menacing, a change police say they're helpless to address without legislation banning sitting or lying on sidewalks, which Mayor Gavin Newsom and Police Chief George Gascón introduced March 1.

Proponents and opponents have attended City Hall meetings and voiced their arguments in the media. The police, homeless rights advocates, Haight Street business owners, residents, Newsom, and columnists have spoken their piece. But what do the street kids, who haven't been heard from in this debate, have to say for themselves?

So on March 19, I spent the day walking the Haight to get the perspective from the street, asking kids what they think is going on?

It's 3 p.m. and I'm standing on the southwest corner of Central and Haight streets next to a Bob Marley mural painted on the side of a liquor store. A cop car cruises by. With no thugs or panhandlers in sight, I head toward Golden Gate Park along the south side of the street.

On the corner of Masonic and Haight, there are some well-kept teens perched against the wall of X-Generation. Clutching shopping bags, they are not panhandlers, but they sit on the ground because Haight Street doesn't have benches, except for one on Stanyan facing the park.

These kids clearly aren't the targets of this ordinance, so I move on to the notorious Haight-Asbury intersection, which is also devoid of vagabonds. An old woman and young boy, both well-dressed, squat in front of Haight Asbury Vintage, watching shoppers pass by.

Almost at the end of the block, outside a closed storefront, a scruffy young man is perched on a back pack holding a battered piece of cardboard that reads "SMILES/HAVE A NICE DAY!? OR NIGHT."

"You have a beautiful smile," he croons to passersby. Most stare straight ahead, some smile without making eye contact; a woman in her 30s asks to take his picture. Jay is 18, has a scarce beard and crust in the corners of his sleepy pale blue eyes. He is from Ohio and says he has been bumming on Haight and sleeping in the park for about three months. He hitchhiked to San Francisco because his sister is "a back-stabbing crack head, so I left."

He doesn't think panhandling has become more aggressive recently, but that business owners "just want to be asses." He's not much of a talker and more interested in smiles, so I leave Jay to his work.

On the next block I meet Kevin Geoppo, 31, cupping a handful of coinage, sitting on the window ledge of a storefront under renovation. Kevin says he's a heroin addict who grew up in Orlando, Fla., and made his way to San Francisco years ago. He's obtained an SRO and primary care doctor, but can't get a job.

He sees both sides of the sit/lie law debate. "Those who sit and lie do cause a lot trouble, stir up energy that isn't needed to [hurt] tourism, and [threaten] violence, so I can understand why this is being talked about," he says.

At the same time, he is wary of how the police would use the law and at whom it would be directed. He doesn't think things are getting worse, but he says the panhandling and menacing attitudes of some kids ebb and flow as different groups pass through the city.

"A lot of these yuppie, rich, bureaucrat people are trying to clean up everything because if you take a left or a right anywhere off Haight Street, it's rich people living in those houses," he says. I let him get back to business and proceed down the street.

Comments

Thank you for this engaging, first-hand report.

Question:

Of the street people that you interviewed, how many are San Francisco residents who have become homeless?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Mar. 25, 2010 @ 12:07 pm

Below are two letters published in the Bay Area Reporter in the past two weeks. The first letter is yet another letter from Arthur Evans who seems to have provided saturation coverage....on this forum and other forums about this issue of sit-lie.

The letter he sent to the BAR looks like the same one he put on here, minus the stuff about the gay guys supposedly running away in "shock and horror." Remember that part in the comment he posted here? I remember it. It sounded right out of novel or a script. It was part of a comment Arthur posted where a few people supposedly who live in the Haight (residents) had written about their negative experiences and Arthur posted their comments here (for sit-lie). In Arthur's comment, he wrote about the gay guys supposedly ran in "shock and horror" after hearing "Faggot! I hope you die of AIDS!" That quoted part was definitely in the letter he posted here. It's also in the letter he sent to the BAR. But either Arthur left the Hollywood script dramatics out of the letter he sent to the BAR or they deleted that "ran in shock and horror" part from the letter Arthur sent them. Below is the letter he sent the BAR. I don't have the time to go searching through the previous sit-lie thread on here to see how word-for-word the comment he posted on here matches the letter he sent to the BAR, but those who have been on this forum for awhile should recognize the letter below from Arthur Evans.

I can't imagine Arthur is not getting paid for his efforts. Someone who spends this much time on one topic to provide saturation coverage must be getting paid by someone. Here's his letter to the BAR:

The homeless in the Haight

Thank you for your article on the proposed sit/lie law that Mayor Gavin Newsom has submitted to the Board of Supervisors, prompted initially by the behavior of the street people in the Haight ["Sit/lie proposal raises ire," March 11].

I have been a gay activist and writer since the Stonewall era and have lived at the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets for the last 35 years. Here are some personal observations from the neighborhood.

Only a tiny minority of the street people in the Haight are San Franciscans who have become homeless. Most are migratory addicts and alcoholics. They move up and down the West Coast in packs, looking for easy access to drugs and weak law enforcement. They have created a subculture for themselves that is rooted in addiction and hostile to recovery programs.

In recent years, they have become increasingly territorial and aggressive, colonizing sidewalks and other public spaces as their turf. They assault residents and each other, sell drugs, urinate and defecate on sidewalks, dump used hypodermic needles in parks and children's sandboxes, cause fires, leave litter everywhere, and pound on drums around the clock. They are now migrating in increasing numbers out of the Haight into the Castro and beyond.

Their abusive behavior toward residents is mostly directed at women, the elderly, and men whom they believe to be gay. I have personally witnessed many such incidents over the years. In one case, a large, drunken male stalked two young gay men who were holding hands, spat in the face of one of them, and shouted "Faggot! I hope you die of AIDS!"

The basis of their strength is their territoriality. When they squat on sidewalks, San Francisco police may not legally direct them to move along unless there is a formal complaint from a civilian. Civilians are often afraid to make such complaints out of fear of retaliation. The persons cited usually return, with no consequences for their behavior.

This requirement for a civilian complaint is not part of the municipal code or state law but the result of two arcane General Orders of the Police Commission. They resulted from a court settlement some years ago and cannot be readily rescinded.

The proposed sit/lie law would enable police to direct sidewalk squatters to move along, without first having a formal civilian complaint. The law specifies that a first offense would result only in a warning with no citation. Only subsequent violations would bring citations.

The law would allow police foot-patrols to be more effective in dealing with the squatters. To call for more foot-patrols as the answer to the problem, but to oppose this law, as some have done, is a contradiction. It's like trying to drive a car with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake.

Admittedly, people with drug and alcohol addictions need services. But there are those who refuse services and are part of a toxic subculture that colonizes public space for its own purposes. For the sake of neighborhood safety and well-being, they should be held accountable for their behavior. And that's what a sit/lie law would help do. Let's support it.

Arthur Evans
San Francisco

THEN.............

This week someone responded to that letter from Arthur Evans in the BAR. Here's a letter from Peter J. Golbetzletter:

No problem with Haight homeless folks

Arthur Evans's rant would be laughable if not for the hatred and bigotry that he incites [Mailstrom, March 18]. I too have lived in the Haight for over a decade and have had many interactions with Haight Street homeless people. I have never had any problems with them and find most of them peaceful and well mannered. I live in a complex where there are seven gay households and neither myself nor my neighbors have ever been assaulted in a homophobic attack. It is true that on occasion there are some alcoholic and obnoxious homeless who frequent the Haight, but this is a minority and there exists no sub-cultures or socioeconomic levels that are free from base unruly individuals.

I have on numerous occasions observed Mr. Evans harassing homeless youth who were minding their own business or trying to play music. Does Mr. Evans have any idea what the history of the Haight Street is or is about? The Haight is famous because people, often on the margins of society (many of whom are gay), choose to come here to break free of cultural norms and experiment with alternative lifestyles. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Being free spirited and choosing not to be a part of the larger dominant socioeconomic culture is not a crime and people should not be harassed based on prejudice or ignorance. This is San Francisco. We cannot criminalize a whole class of people. Sit/lie goes against everything San Franciscans value and are known for throughout the world. Perhaps Mr. Evans would be happier in a place where people behave in more conventional ways, Tupelo or Colorado Springs perhaps. There are already laws for dealing with unruly homeless and aggressive panhandlers. Let those who remain peaceful live in peace.

Peter J. Golbetz
San Francisco

Hopefully my comment here is not contributing financially to a paid Internet Troll. But I felt it should be pointed out just how much effort one person is putting into this sit-lie nonsense. Clearly, Arthur Evans has an agenda.

Posted by Sam on Mar. 25, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

Below are two letters published in the Bay Area Reporter in the past two weeks. The first letter is yet another letter from Arthur Evans who seems to have provided saturation coverage....on this forum and other forums about this issue of sit-lie.

The letter he sent to the BAR looks like the same one he put on here, minus the stuff about the gay guys supposedly running away in "shock and horror." Remember that part in the comment he posted here? I remember it. It sounded right out of novel or a script. It was part of a comment Arthur posted where a few people supposedly who live in the Haight (residents) had written about their negative experiences and Arthur posted their comments here (for sit-lie). In Arthur's comment, he wrote about the gay guys supposedly ran in "shock and horror" after hearing "Faggot! I hope you die of AIDS!" That quoted part was definitely in the letter he posted here. It's also in the letter he sent to the BAR. But either Arthur left the Hollywood script dramatics out of the letter he sent to the BAR or they deleted that "ran in shock and horror" part from the letter Arthur sent them. Below is the letter he sent the BAR. I don't have the time to go searching through the previous sit-lie thread on here to see how word-for-word the comment he posted on here matches the letter he sent to the BAR, but those who have been on this forum for awhile should recognize the letter below from Arthur Evans.

I can't imagine Arthur is not getting paid for his efforts. Someone who spends this much time on one topic to provide saturation coverage must be getting paid by someone. Here's his letter to the BAR:

The homeless in the Haight

Thank you for your article on the proposed sit/lie law that Mayor Gavin Newsom has submitted to the Board of Supervisors, prompted initially by the behavior of the street people in the Haight ["Sit/lie proposal raises ire," March 11].

I have been a gay activist and writer since the Stonewall era and have lived at the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets for the last 35 years. Here are some personal observations from the neighborhood.

Only a tiny minority of the street people in the Haight are San Franciscans who have become homeless. Most are migratory addicts and alcoholics. They move up and down the West Coast in packs, looking for easy access to drugs and weak law enforcement. They have created a subculture for themselves that is rooted in addiction and hostile to recovery programs.

In recent years, they have become increasingly territorial and aggressive, colonizing sidewalks and other public spaces as their turf. They assault residents and each other, sell drugs, urinate and defecate on sidewalks, dump used hypodermic needles in parks and children's sandboxes, cause fires, leave litter everywhere, and pound on drums around the clock. They are now migrating in increasing numbers out of the Haight into the Castro and beyond.

Their abusive behavior toward residents is mostly directed at women, the elderly, and men whom they believe to be gay. I have personally witnessed many such incidents over the years. In one case, a large, drunken male stalked two young gay men who were holding hands, spat in the face of one of them, and shouted "Faggot! I hope you die of AIDS!"

The basis of their strength is their territoriality. When they squat on sidewalks, San Francisco police may not legally direct them to move along unless there is a formal complaint from a civilian. Civilians are often afraid to make such complaints out of fear of retaliation. The persons cited usually return, with no consequences for their behavior.

This requirement for a civilian complaint is not part of the municipal code or state law but the result of two arcane General Orders of the Police Commission. They resulted from a court settlement some years ago and cannot be readily rescinded.

The proposed sit/lie law would enable police to direct sidewalk squatters to move along, without first having a formal civilian complaint. The law specifies that a first offense would result only in a warning with no citation. Only subsequent violations would bring citations.

The law would allow police foot-patrols to be more effective in dealing with the squatters. To call for more foot-patrols as the answer to the problem, but to oppose this law, as some have done, is a contradiction. It's like trying to drive a car with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake.

Admittedly, people with drug and alcohol addictions need services. But there are those who refuse services and are part of a toxic subculture that colonizes public space for its own purposes. For the sake of neighborhood safety and well-being, they should be held accountable for their behavior. And that's what a sit/lie law would help do. Let's support it.

Arthur Evans
San Francisco

THEN.............

This week someone responded to that letter from Arthur Evans in the BAR. Here's a letter from Peter J. Golbetzletter:

No problem with Haight homeless folks

Arthur Evans's rant would be laughable if not for the hatred and bigotry that he incites [Mailstrom, March 18]. I too have lived in the Haight for over a decade and have had many interactions with Haight Street homeless people. I have never had any problems with them and find most of them peaceful and well mannered. I live in a complex where there are seven gay households and neither myself nor my neighbors have ever been assaulted in a homophobic attack. It is true that on occasion there are some alcoholic and obnoxious homeless who frequent the Haight, but this is a minority and there exists no sub-cultures or socioeconomic levels that are free from base unruly individuals.

I have on numerous occasions observed Mr. Evans harassing homeless youth who were minding their own business or trying to play music. Does Mr. Evans have any idea what the history of the Haight Street is or is about? The Haight is famous because people, often on the margins of society (many of whom are gay), choose to come here to break free of cultural norms and experiment with alternative lifestyles. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Being free spirited and choosing not to be a part of the larger dominant socioeconomic culture is not a crime and people should not be harassed based on prejudice or ignorance. This is San Francisco. We cannot criminalize a whole class of people. Sit/lie goes against everything San Franciscans value and are known for throughout the world. Perhaps Mr. Evans would be happier in a place where people behave in more conventional ways, Tupelo or Colorado Springs perhaps. There are already laws for dealing with unruly homeless and aggressive panhandlers. Let those who remain peaceful live in peace.

Peter J. Golbetz
San Francisco

Hopefully my comment here is not contributing financially to a paid Internet Troll. But I felt it should be pointed out just how much effort one person is putting into this sit-lie nonsense. Clearly, Arthur Evans has an agenda.

Posted by Sam on Mar. 25, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

I Googled: Arthur Evans.

Very informative. NINE *PAGES* of Google entries came up about, relating to, or by this guy, Arthur Evans and sit-lie. I had suspected there was a regressive agenda behind this. It must be someone's full-time job.

I read this on streetsblog:

South Mary wrote (03.17.10):

Following is a quote from facebook regarding the man behind the push for a sit/lie law.
“As we discussed last night at our event at CounterPulse, this is just another effort to secure "safety" through legislation that empowers the police state to further criminalize the homeless.
The irony is of course that the main organizer for the sit/lie law is a gay man, Arthur Evans. He lives two blocks from me and has been on a longtime campaign to "clean" up the Haight. He sent me an email two days ago complaining that the "homeless" harass him because of his status as a gay man.
A friend of mine, Joey Cain, who is also gay, is organizing in opposition to this law. The coverage so far has suggested that everyone in the Haight supports the law. Not true!”
-robert haaland

----------------------------------

South Mary also wrote:

This Arthur Evans person has been coordinating with the SF Chronicle’s C.W. Nevius to give people the false notion that there is an emergency situation on Haight street. Trying to control people in his neighborhood is not a new endeavor for him.
Google “Arthur Evans” to see how he has been burning up the internet in his quest to stop “narco-terrorists” from “colonizing public space”.
He has also spent time getting beer banned from the Haight Street Fair, and trying to put medical marijuana dispensaries in the Haight out of business.

My own comments: His (Arthur's) writing style seems to start out with this, "thank you for such an engaging report" or some such "thank you" stuff and then he launches into some interrogation question to address his regressive agenda, which at least to me, makes the initial "thank you" seem rather nose-in-the-air/pretentious, patronizing and insincere. It's just pabulum.

Anyway, from Googling Arthur Evans I now have a much clearer understanding of what this regressive guy is about and his agenda.

Posted by Sam on Mar. 25, 2010 @ 11:58 pm

Hey Sam,

You overlooked this letter of mine in the current issue of SF Bay Times:

Editor:

In a recent letter, Peter Golbetz says of the street people in the Haight: “I have never had any problems with them and find most of them peaceful and well mannered” (Letter, March 4). May his good fortune continue! However, dozens of people have come forward in recent months to recount their own bad experiences. Below are six examples. The last is one that I myself observed.

[1] I am a mother of two. On numerous occasions, I’ve been forced to jaywalk or walk into oncoming traffic with my baby in the stroller while trying to keep the hand of my four year old to get around the party happening on the sidewalk. These groups are intimidating. I have been yelled at, harassed, aggressively approached for money and have almost been bitten by some of their dogs. When they do finally move on, there is almost always a plethora of trash, and often, dog and human waste left for the residents or merchants to clean.

[2] I’ve also been witness to the ever-escalating problem of aggressive street people taking over the sidewalks of Haight Street and its intersections with our other neighborhood streets. These are not the same people as the poor homeless we see in the Carl Muni park or elsewhere - these are small gangs who openly panhandle for drug money, harbor threatening looking dogs, and take over complete sidewalks, making them impassable. More and more my family is having to avoid Haight Street altogether, despite our inclination to patronize local businesses.

[3] My toddler — whom you saw briefly when you attended the recent HAIA meeting, Supervisor Mirkarimi — has been spit on because I didn’t give money to one of this newer crowd who was panhandling.

[4] I also find myself bypassing completely the first block of Haight Street with my family, and scoping ahead to determine which side of the street to walk on other blocks to best avoid the heckling and aggressive behavior of the youths that have taken up residence during the day. I have pushed the stroller with my baby down the street itself feeling that it was safer than going past a pit bull tethered by a frayed rope held by a not terribly attentive owner.

[5] I live just 1.5 blocks from Haight, and I generally do my best to avoid walking the gauntlet of youth lounging on the corners with their dogs. If I need to go to the bookstore or the post office on Haight with any of my 3 young children, I plot my route carefully to make sure we avoid popular hang-outs at Cole and Haight.

When I do find myself on Haight Street, I often wonder what the tourists milling around must think: “is this it? are pit bulls really the legacy of the summer of love?” The residents, tourists and merchants of Haight street deserve so much more - Haight Ashbury is an incredible brand and we have ceded it to a group of vagrants.

[6] I saw two young, thin gay men walking down Haight Street on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, holding hands and having a wonderful day. They passed a small group of sidewalk squatters. Unknown to them, one of them got up and started stalking them from behind.

He was a white male, about forty years of age, big, beefy, with long blond-brown hair, and drunk out of his mind. He gained speed, ran up in front of the two gay guys, spat in the face of one of them, and yelled “Faggot! I hope you die from AIDS!” The two gay guys ran away in shock and horror.

Arthur Evans
San Francisco

Here's the URL. Scroll down about 3/4 of the way and enjoy:

http://www.sfbaytimes.com/index.php?sec=article&article_id=12607

Posted by Arthur Evans on Mar. 26, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

Arthur Evans wrote that
" dozens of people have come forward in recent months to recount their own bad experiences. "
Dozens means, at a minimum, 24.
You have six.
Where are the other 18?

Where did you get the five stories besides your own?
Why are these stories not supported by even a single piece of factual information?
If this happened to real people, what are their names?
Why must they rely upon you to tell the world of their plight?
When did these events take place?
Where did each of these events take place?
Did these people make reports of the incidents to the police?
If not, why?
Why are you the only one repeating these stories?
And why should anyone believe you?

Your commitment to controlling other people, and depriving them of their civil rights is comparable to that of the most extreme religious zealots.
Your extremism easily explains why you would feel justified in exaggerating and lying to convince others to force your rules on innocent people.
You have posted these same stories on the internet and repeated them in letters again and again, never bothering to explain who these people are, or to offer any facts that would verify your stories.

And what about this statement from Peter Golbetz, which is unquestionably as true as any you have made:
"I have on numerous occasions observed Mr. Evans harassing homeless youth who were minding their own business or trying to play music."
With any luck, one day someone will call the police and put a stop to your harassment of people on public sidewalks. After all, we can't have you colonizing them for your own exclusive use.

While we're at it, did you work to "get beer banned from the Haight Street Fair, and try to put medical marijuana dispensaries in the Haight out of business."?
Is this just the latest in a bizarre series of moral crusades you have waged against your neighbors?

Repeating yourself endlessly does not make your stories true, Arthur.
It just makes you a fire hose of bullshit.

Posted by Big, Beefy on Mar. 26, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

Funny thing.
Arthur Evans is busy posting on any thread having to do with the sit/lie law except this one:
http://www.sfbg.com/2010/03/23/commons-and-commoners
in which the author, attorney Ben Rosenfeld, addressed Evan’s arguments for a sit/lie law point by point, and showed them to be without merit.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

Big, Beefy:

Hola. You asked Arthur Evans where he got the other five stories. I suspect he made them all up, pretending to be 6 different people. That would be my guess.

If you notice, the writing style is pretty much all the same for all 6 "testimonials." They don't look like they were written by 6 different people. Look at the language used. There is no slang used, there is no diversity in the writing style. They look like they were all written by the same person. No misspelled words (that I saw) and complete sentences (from a quick scan of them). That's not often how many/most people write from my experience with people. Many people write as they do for e-mails, unless they are specifically asked to make it "official," and even then there can be a misspelled word or two if they don't do a spell check. I think the "testimonials" are phony. And they are the same anonymous "testimonials" he posted on here recently in another thread on this topic and they are the ones I wrote about above. He just copies and pastes.

Posted by Sam on Mar. 27, 2010 @ 1:10 am

The testimonials cited above are a subset of a larger collection by residents of the Haight Ashbury. Residents first presented some of these at public meetings in the Haight. They presented others via the Net on a list-serve maintained by the Haight Ashbury Improvement Association.

All the testimonials, including the particular names and addresses of each of the authors, have been submitted to members of the Board of Supervisors, which will consider the sit-lie law next month. The supervisors are taking the testimonials seriously, as they should.

The testimonials have gotten support from a report of the Controller, issued a few days ago. It notes that residents of the Haight Ashbury in recent years have reported an increase in public insecurity, in contrast to the city as a whole, which has witnessed a decrease in feelings of public insecurity.

By the way, the original question, posed at the beginning of this thread, still remains unanswered:

How many of the street people interviewed for this article are San Franciscans who have become homeless?

Any guesses?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Mar. 28, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

Why are you ignoring these simple questions?

Arthur Evans wrote that
" dozens of people have come forward in recent months to recount their own bad experiences. "
Dozens means, at a minimum, 24.
You have six.
Where are the other 18?
Why not submit them here, if there really are "dozens".

Why are these stories not supported by even a single piece of specific factual information?
If these people made public statements, why are you keeping their names a secret?
If you want their identities to remain secret, then:
When did these events take place?
Where did each of these events take place?
Did these people make reports of the incidents to the police?
If not, why?
Why are you the only one repeating these stories?
And why should anyone believe you?

Your commitment to controlling other people, and depriving them of their civil rights is comparable to that of the most extreme religious zealots.
Your extremism easily explains why you would feel justified in exaggerating and lying to convince others to force your rules on innocent people.
You have posted these same stories on the internet and repeated them in letters again and again, never bothering to offer any facts that would verify your stories.

And what about this statement from Peter Golbetz, which is unquestionably as true as any you have made:
"I have on numerous occasions observed Mr. Evans harassing homeless youth who were minding their own business or trying to play music."
With any luck, one day someone will call the police and put a stop to your harassment of people on public sidewalks. After all, we can't have you colonizing them for your own exclusive use.

While we're at it, did you work to "get beer banned from the Haight Street Fair, and try to put medical marijuana dispensaries in the Haight out of business."?
Is this just the latest in a bizarre series of moral crusades you have waged against your neighbors?

Repeating yourself endlessly does not make your stories true, Arthur.
It just makes you a fire hose of bullshit.

Posted by Big, Beefy on Mar. 28, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

Below is another powerful testimonial by a neighbor of mine in the Haight. He originally posted it on the Guardian's website, in response to an editorial by Publisher Bruce Brugmann, in which Brugmann attacked the sit-lie law.

I haven't been able to relocate Brugmann's original editorial (things move around a lot at the Guardian). But I made a copy of my neighbor's testimonial, which follows -

* * * *
I do not wish to become involved in needless controversy, but I am more than willing to share my experience. I live on Fulton Street between Stanyan Street and Arguello Boulevard. Across the street is the North Ridge of Golden Gate Park.

That portion of the park has been for many years, at least the 15 that I have lived here, the"shooting gallery" where drugs, hard drugs, are traded and injected. Six years ago, a tent was erected by "homeless" people within the canopy of the shrubbery. It was nicely hidden from public view, but from my bedroom I could witness the activities there and in the adjoining apartment buildings and flats surrounding my residence.

There was a very brisk drug trade in the neighborhood. With it, there were home burglaries, car burglaries, murders, vandalism, prostitution, vagrancy, muggings and a host of other illegal activities. "Drug drops" were a nightly occurence along the length of the stone wall on the Park's periphery.

All of this activity supported the "homeless" population that had taken residence in the doorways of homes and businesses on Haight Street. Human excrement and urine littered the streets and doorways, including mine. Street lights were routinely vandalized, the wiring ripped out, to disable them.

The most cynical abuse was the fact that the city's liberal attitude allowing compassionate use of marijuana for medical purposes was providing an income for drug addicts.The money they received by selling their "stash" of medical marijuana to school children of all ages, tourists and other visitors to the Haight and Golden Gate Park was spent on hard drugs.

When I first entered the neighborhood campaign to rid it of this problem, I was informed by the police department that I was living in a "containment" zone so designated to allow them to better manage the drug problems in the city. In other words, the city's official policy was to herd the drug addicts, convicts, schizophrenics and other members of the homeless population to my neighborhood.

After several months of regularly reporting the activities to both the Richmond and Park Stations of the SFPD and the Parks Department, multiple arrests were made, the tent was removed, and the shrubbery was pruned. When the makeshift tent was dismantled by authorities, a 33 gallon plastic garbage bag of needles was removed from the site.

Needles were routinely found in adjacent areas of the park along the wooded trails including the shrubbery around the playground on the south side of the park and the lake at the entrance to the park as well.

Today, things have improved somewhat. After a young man was killed on the ridge about a year and a half ago, surveillance has been much better and the neighborhood is more alert than ever to report any suspicious activity immediately. The costs of managing this activity, socially, politically and financially are enormous.

So you see, Mr. Brugmann, your grasp of this situation is very much lacking in the reality of it. It is not merely a problem of people sitting on the street. I don't what neighborhood, or ivory tower you live in, but it's time for you to do some real investigation of a problem before you accuse others of grandstanding on an issue for the sake of good press. How I wish your perspective was correct. Be sure, it isn't.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Mar. 28, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

"Six years ago, a tent was erected "
SIX YEARS AGO!
"After several months of regularly reporting .. multiple arrests were made, the tent was removed"
So that problem was solved by enforcement of existing laws.
Six years ago.
Without a law making it a crime to sit on a sidewalk.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 28, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

Thank you for exposing yourselves for who and what you really are and what your agenda is about.

I appreciate a liberal attitude which is why I and many other people live here. If I wanted a right-wing or regressive attitude like they had in Nazi Germany I would move to a place like that.

If one doesn't like the neighborhood one lives in or the city one lives in, doesn't it make sense to do some research and find a place you would prefer to live in, instead of trying to change a neighbor and a major city to fit your rabid regressive agenda?

Have you considered Oklahoma, Pittsburgh or Iowa....ANYWHERE? Moving to one of those places or some place else, would take far less time and energy on your part than all the time and effort you're putting into try to change a neighborhood and a major city to fit your rabid regressive agenda. And clearly, you and others have an agenda to put this much time and effort into something. Google brings up 9 PAGES of entries with Arthur Evans and sit-lie. Incredible.

JUST MOVE! jesus fuking christ.

This guy Arthur Evans pretends to be "scholarly" and intellectual....no proof of that here, Arthur. Someone with an operative brain would have left long ago and would be happy in their new neighborhood and city or town or hamlet or sticks.

Posted by Sam on Mar. 28, 2010 @ 6:54 pm

Sam's advice above reminds me of what I often heard in the 1960s while I was protesting the Vietnam War:

If you don't love America, why don't you just leave?

In fact, I love America. But I want to see it be a better country.

In fact, I love the Haight and SF, too. But I want to see them be a better neighborhood and a better city.

If the human race had followed Sam's reactionary advice throughout its history, we'd all still be living in caves and eating each other for lunch.

Let's work together to make the world better. A good place to start is our own neighborhoods.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Mar. 28, 2010 @ 7:12 pm

In fact, I love the Haight and SF, too. But I want to see them be a better neighborhood and a better city.

---------------------------

Alright, then MOVE. Then the Haight and San Francisco will indeed be a better neighborhood and city. It will have one less foaming-at-the-mouth, rabid jerk in the neighborhood trying to control other people.

And I'm sure you protested Vietnam. Yeah right. Just like you're protesting Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, et al wars/occupations today. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if you are FOR all of those occupations and believe in this phony "war on terror" BS.

Please move and then the Haight and this City will be better, and then you won't have to waste all this time whining, moaning and complaining about the Haight and trying to control other people.

I would also like to point out that the way you wrote your response is very typical of the right-wing mentality. I have seen that pabulum repeatedly on message forums over the years.

Posted by Sam on Mar. 28, 2010 @ 9:09 pm

A bunch of do-nothing thugs dictating how we should live in San Francisco. A bunch of give me for nothing jerks demeaning the police department where people actually work not to mention the danger...

So, where is this fairy tale taking place - you guessed it dear old SF.

If I wasn't born here and had friends and family in the area, I would move to a place much more user friendly....

Or, at least pass some laws that allow us to take back the streets..

jc

Posted by Guest JC on Mar. 28, 2010 @ 7:40 pm

(1) Whatever happened to the topic of this thread?

(2) How many of the street people interviewed for this article are San Francisco residents who have become homeless?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Mar. 29, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

Ad Hominem Slandering?

You mean like this attack you made on Mar. 14, 2010?
“Joey Cain is a fringer who is not to be taken seriously.”
Posted by Arthur Evans on Mar. 14, 2010 @ 8:39 am
http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2010/03/12/sit-lie-gets-skeptical-reception

Or this attack you made on Feb. 3, 2010?
“In a well publicized media event, Joey Cain and "the Radical Faeries of the Haight" went up and down Haight Street...This was Joey Cain's answer to the problem. I kid you not....Nothing could have been more absurd... This action by Joey Cain remains unsurpassed in that department....Today, this same Joey Cain heads HANC. Looking to this group, with its current leadership, for guidance on public safety is like consulting the Flat Earth Society about geography.”
Posted by Arthur Evans | February 3, 2010 05:49 PM
http://www.sfbg.com/blogs/politics/2010/02/community_policing_in_the_hai...

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

What the hell difference does it make how many people sitting on the streets are San Francisco residents who have become homeless? What does that have to do with anything?

We're not in a full-blown Nazi state quite yet, although that's where some people would like to see us go. The fact is people from any part of the world are welcome to come here and sit-lie on the sidewalks, whether they be from Iceland, Denmark, Colombia, Germany, Africa (or any place one can think of) or whether they were born here. It makes no difference. The streets and sidewalks belong to We The People.

OUR SIDEWALKS. OUR STREETS.

If one wants to sit and lie on our sidewalks at any hour of the day or night, go right ahead. I support people doing that. That's what FREEDOM is really about. Or do you prefer not to be free? As I said before, my question to you is: why do you live in a place that you dislike so much. Again, just MOVE! But no, your agenda is to try to control other people's behavior. Period.

It is government policies that send our jobs over to China and India. You're mindlessly bitching at the end of the problem when you should be bitching at what CAUSED the problem in the first place, which is OUTSOURCING of millions and millions of jobs out of this nation and those jobs are not going to come back. These millions and millions of jobs were sent to China and India and more are still being sent at record levels by Republicans and Democrats in the District of Columbia. That's who you should be bitching, moaning and complaining to and about. Remember Nancy Pelosi taking "impeachment off the table?" (as just one example).

Paz y Libertad.

Posted by Sam on Mar. 29, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

Did you work to "get beer banned from the Haight Street Fair?

Did you try to put medical marijuana dispensaries in the Haight out of business."?

Why do you harass homeless youth?

What about this statement from Peter Golbetz:
"I have on numerous occasions observed Mr. Evans harassing homeless youth who were minding their own business or trying to play music."
http://ebar.com/openforum/opforum.php?sec=letters

See how I included the name of a person and a link with that last statement?
Those things give the statement veracity.
Your five "testimonials" that you use to argue for a no-sitting-on-the-sidewalk-law lack veracity, and reinforce peoples' opinions that you are a liar.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 29, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

Joey Cain's public record in dealing with the migratory addicts of Haight Street is a fair target for criticism. He got a group together, called them "The Radical Faeries of the Haight," and had them pass out handfuls of joints to the addicts and alcoholics flopped out on Haight St. He said this act was an example of how to deal with the street people in the Haight.

Today he is the president of the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, a small, rump group of about 15 people or so that opposes the sit-lie law.

If you think none of this is correct, just ask him.

But let us return to the topic of this thread -

Opponents of the sit-lie law like to engage ad hominem slandering. This is the practice of trying to shift attention away from the topic of debate by concocting personal slanders against the motives, life, and character of someone who holds a different view.

The aim ad hominem slandering is diversionary. The topic gets lost, as people wander off in dealing with bogus questions of the type "Do you still beat your wife?"

I urge readers to go back and re-read the news report by Swezy that begins this thread.

Then ask yourself:

How many of the interviewed people are San Francisco residents who have become homeless?

Then draw your own conclusions, free from all the diversionary ad hominem slanders.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Mar. 30, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

Did you work to "get beer banned from the Haight Street Fair?

Did you "try to put medical marijuana dispensaries in the Haight out of business."?

Do you "harass homeless youth?"

Here is a statement from Peter Golbetz:
"I have on numerous occasions observed Mr. Evans harassing homeless youth who were minding their own business or trying to play music."
http://ebar.com/openforum/opforum.php?sec=letters

These three questions speak to the fact that you are constantly sounding alarms regarding emergencies that are manufactured by yourself and a handful of Haight Street Fascists.
The fact that, for years, you have regularly and repeatedly engaged in campaigns of intolerance against your neighbors sheds light on the lack of substance to be found in this latest attack on the rights of your neighbors.
You began this latest campaign with hysterical claims of an emergency that required new laws, suspension of consideration for our civil rights, and immediate action.
The fact that you make hysterical claims regarding new imaginary emergencies every year shows that your concerns should no longer receive attention from your neighbors, and that the alarm and fear you seek to cause people is not justified by the reality of the situation.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 30, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

Last Saturday, over a thousand people took to the sidewalks to protest Arthur Evans' and the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council's dream of a totalitarian state.
And in the process, they enjoyed themselves, their neighbors, and their neighborhood.
This is San Francisco.

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/politics/Protests-Mount-Against-Sidewalk-...

http://www.standagainstsitlie.org/

http://www.i-newswire.com/more-than-one-thousand-san-franciscans/28854

http://missionlocal.org/2010/03/to-sit-or-lie-is-that-the-crime/

http://www.facebook.com/pages/San-Francisco-Stands-Against-Sit-Lie/34747...

Posted by Guest on Mar. 30, 2010 @ 11:49 pm

Hmm, whatever happened to the topic of this thread - the interesting, well written interview with the street people of the Haight by Swezy?

Who is responsible for driving this thread off track, into the ditch of ad hominem slandering against other participants in the discussion?

Why does this detour bring to mind the tactics of those who opposed Care Not Cash some years ago?

Did they work then? Will they work now?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 02, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

Why not answer the questions?
You sounded the false emergency.
You have put all your energy into making it a crime for people like the ones interviewed above to simply sit on a public sidewalk

Did you work to "get beer banned from the Haight Street Fair?

Did you "try to put medical marijuana dispensaries in the Haight out of business."?

Do you "harass homeless youth?"

Here is a statement from Peter Golbetz:
"I have on numerous occasions observed Mr. Evans harassing homeless youth who were minding their own business or trying to play music."
http://ebar.com/openforum/opforum.php?sec=letters

These three questions speak to the fact that you are constantly sounding alarms regarding emergencies that are manufactured by yourself and a handful of Haight Street Fascists.
The fact that, for years, you have regularly and repeatedly engaged in campaigns of intolerance against your neighbors sheds light on the lack of substance to be found in this latest attack on the rights of your neighbors.
You began this latest campaign with hysterical claims of an emergency that required new laws, suspension of consideration for our civil rights, and immediate action.
The fact that you make hysterical claims regarding new imaginary emergencies every year shows that your concerns should no longer receive attention from your neighbors, and that the alarm and fear you seek to cause people is not justified by the reality of the situation.

Posted by It's Not Slander If It's True, Arthur Evans on Apr. 03, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

Ad hominem slanders are no substitute for intelligent, issue-focused debate.

That's the lesson that opponents of Care Not Cash forgot some years ago, and it's the lesson that opponents of the sit-lie law forget today.

Persistence in folly only pushes one deeper into the rut of ineffectiveness.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 04, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

I hope readers will go back and re-read this thread. It has demonstrated something important. There are widely divergent ways of engaging in debate.

The most rational and principled way of debating is to focus on the issues at hand, quote the precise words of opponents when criticizing their views, appeal to logic and evidence in making points, and avoid personal attacks on participants in the debate who hold differing views.

The least rational and principled way of debating is to divert attention away from the issues at hand, attribute views to opponents without documenting them with their words, go off on emotional sidetracks, and lob ad hominem slanders at participants in the debate who hold differing views.

The first way of debating appeals to people who value the life of reason and are independent thinkers. It opens the door to learning new facts that don't fit into pre-existing presuppositions.

The second way of debating is common to fundamentalists, on both the right and the left, and in both politics and religion. It provides true believers with psychological relief when confronted by ideas that they cannot fit into their own doctrinal niches.

Let us move beyond the spirit of dogmatic fundamentalism, wherever we may encounter it, and open ourselves to the rational investigation of life and reality.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 04, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

In 2007, seeing that people were having fun at the Haight Street Fair, Arthur Evans and the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council sounded yet another alarm:
"they have a TRASHING and call it a fair,” - Arthur Evans, a member of the Haight Ashbury Improvement Association, which opposed the event.

And just as he has with his current campaign for a sit-lie law that violates the civil rights of all people who live in or visit San Francisco, he sought to alarm and frighten people by invoking images of:
"drunk, surly males urinating on the sidewalks as a sign of TURF MARKING"
Arthur Evans
Published: March 15, 2007

Posted by Guest on Apr. 04, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

Actual links won't post, so just Google these:

examiner.com
Alcohol sales banned at festival
Mar 23, 2007

sfbaytimes.com
Haight Street Fair Organizers Rebuffed
March 15, 2007

Posted by Guest on Apr. 04, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

The above post contains this error:
Arthur Evans, along with Ted Lowenberg, lead the Haight Ashbury Improvement Association in the battle to make sitting on public sidewalks a crime.

The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, led by Joey Cain, opposes this unneeded and wrongheaded proposal.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 04, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

The ad hominem tactic in a discussion is the effort to detract attention away from the topic by turning another participant in the discussion into the topic. As we see above, the ad hominem tactic is much in play in this thread.

Getting back to the topic of this thread, I have some comments for Skyler Swezy, the author of the piece in question.

You say:

“They [backers of the sit-lie law] report street toughs brazenly smoking crack, blocking sidewalks, spitting on babies, and intimidating citizens with pit bulls.”

Also assaulting residents, causing fires, dealing drugs, throwing trash everywhere, urinating and defecating on sidewalks, pounding on drums around the clock, and more.

You say:

“They've gone [the street thugs] from annoying to menacing, a change police say they're helpless to address without legislation banning sitting or lying on sidewalks…”

Foot patrols would be more effective if they could direct people who are blocking the sidewalks to move along, without first having a formal civilian complaint, as is now required.

You say:

“But what do the street kids, who haven't been heard from in this debate, have to say for themselves?”

They’re not just kids. Ages generally range from late teens to late 50s. Most of the violent ones are males, a gender-related fact that is not mentioned in your article.

You say:

“Haight Street doesn't have benches, except for one on Stanyan facing the park.”

The Haight is one of the most park-rich neighborhoods in the city – Golden Gate Park, the Panhandle, and Buena Vista Park – all with benches.

You say:

“Jay is 18, has a scarce beard and crust in the corners of his sleepy pale blue eyes. He is from Ohio and says he has been bumming on Haight and sleeping in the park for about three months.”

How many of the people you spoke to are San Franciscans who have become homeless?

You say:

“Kevin says he's a heroin addict who grew up in Orlando, Fla., and made his way to San Francisco years ago.”

You say:

How many of the people you spoke to are San Franciscans who have become homeless?

You say:

“he [one of the street people] says the panhandling and menacing attitudes of some kids ebb and flow as different groups pass through the city.”

The main factor is the availability of drugs. When the flow increases, the migratory addicts and alcoholics flock here in larger numbers.

You say:

Quoting a street person: “"A lot of these yuppie, rich, bureaucrat people are trying to clean up everything…”

How about poor people living on limited incomes who want their neighborhoods to be clean, safe, and peaceful?

You say:

“Harpe doesn't have problems with aggressive or congregating street kids. ‘If you ask them to move and treat them with a general level of respect, they go on their way.’”

Sometimes. Other times, though, they have psychotic explosions, especially if they’re wired on crack or speed.

You say:

“He believes the rising number of homeowners in the neighborhood and businesses catering to a more affluent clientele are behind the recent uproar.”

Neighborhood violence hurts everyone regardless of economic class. A friend of mine, near 60, was waiting for a No. 43 one morning bus on his way to work at a hotel downtown.

Out of nowhere, a street person walked across the street and, without any provocation, dumped a handful of garbage on him and knocked him down to the sidewalk. He had to be hospitalized and missed a week of work.

You say:

“He [another street person] is a 33-year-old traveler who just landed back on Haight, having spent the last three weeks in Berkeley”

How many of the people you spoke are San Francisco residents who have become homeless?

You say:

Quoting a street person: “They [the residents] don't understand all the money they'll lose. We panhandle money in the street and then spend it in the stores here.”

They spend most of their money on drugs and alcohol.

You say:

“’Are you against weed?’ he [a street person] asks, before hitting a pipe carved from a deer antler.”

Most of them are stoned and/or drunk 24/7.

You say:

“Angelo [a street person] says. ‘It's crazy, man. We're all just fuckin' a bunch of cells put together, floating around a ball of fire in space.’”

He’s clearly stoned out of his mind.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 7:11 am

"I have on numerous occasions observed Mr. Evans harassing homeless youth who were minding their own business or trying to play music."
ebar.com/openforum/opforum.php?sec=letters

Posted by Guest on Apr. 07, 2010 @ 9:31 pm

For the record, the claim that I have ever harassed any homeless person is false, preposterous, and libelous.

Exactly the opposite is the case. This false claim is another case of blaming the victim.

The street people of the Haight are younger and tougher than I am. They are often on speed or crack.

It would be foolish and dangerous for me to harass them. When they cause problems, I usually avoid interacting with them in any way but call the police to deal with the situation.

In some cases, if they don't appear threatening while causing a problem, I ask them, calmly and reasonably, to stop. If they don't, or if they become belligerent, I just leave and call the police. That's it.

By "causing problems," I mean such things as shouting and screaming incoherently, urinating on the sidewalk, throwing garbage everywhere, spraying graffiti on sidewalks and buildings, starting fires, pounding on drums, drug dealing, and blocking the sidewalk.

I've seen them yell "faggot!" at myself, and other male neighbors, when asked to stop a problem. When asked by women neighbors, a common response from them is to yell "bitch!" or "cunt!"

Not that this post will make any difference to "Guest." People who use ad hominem diversions crank out one slander after another. They seek to make others in the debate into the topic of the debate. The effect is to blunt their own weak arguments on the actual topic of the debate.

This tactic is commonly used by doctrinaire people on both the Left and Right side of the political spectrum. You also see it among religious zealots.

It has no place in a rational debate among intelligent adults.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 08, 2010 @ 8:24 am

If all the crimes you described above actually occurred, and you called the police-

Where are the police reports?

Why are you ignoring these simple questions?

Arthur Evans wrote earlier in this thread that:
" dozens of people have come forward in recent months to recount their own bad experiences. "
Dozens means, at a minimum, 24.
You have six.
Where are the other 18?
Why not submit them here, if there really are "dozens".

Why are these stories not supported by even a single piece of specific factual information?
If these people made public statements, why are you keeping their names a secret?
If you want their identities to remain secret, then:
When did these events take place?
Where did each of these events take place?
Did these people make reports of the incidents to the police?
If not, why?
Why are you the only one repeating these stories?
And why should anyone believe you?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 09, 2010 @ 12:38 pm

I can see that "Guest" has missed the numerous community meetings held in the Haight, where residents and beat cops presented their own first-hand accounts of dealings with the street thugs.

Well, "Guest" is entitled to be a member of the Church of Denial. Everyone to his or her own religion, right?

Luckily, the mayor, the police chief, the D.A., and the media have been listening. And, according to the latest poll, so have 71% of the voters.

There are still some people who deny the earth is a sphere, too.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 11, 2010 @ 8:42 pm

Got that people?
If you do not readily accept as fact Arthur Evans’ monotonous, repetitious references to “numerous community meetings” that took place at unspecified times in the past, at which an unspecified number of unnamed individuals told scary stories about “street thugs” then you are a “member of the Church of Denial”.
And, should you require evidence before giving up your civil rights, you are comparable to “people who deny the earth is a sphere”.

See, that is why he is always right. You think the earth is flat and you remind him of a Monty Python flick.
Arthur Evans and I both pity you and your woeful ignorance and puny intellect, and we refuse to furnish any evidence to support our claims!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

71% of 500 people (that's only 355) told the Chamber of Commerce they would support a law that would prohibit individuals from harassing pedestrians on the sidewalk.
Only a desperate old migratory attention addict would try to mislead people into confusing a biased poll of only 500 people with all of "the voters" in San Francisco.

Over a thousand San Francisco Voters demonstrated their opposition to the ridiculous No Sitting On The Sidewalk Law (you can go to jail just for sitting in front of your own home) on March 27th.
That’s more than a thousand people taking action (as well as enjoying themselves, their neighborhoods, and the company of their neighbors and tourists), as opposed to 355 people answering the phone when the agenda driven Chamber of Commerce called.
And it means that 3 times as many voters are opposed to the No Sitting On The Sidewalk Law as those who said they would support it, if it prohibited harassment of pedestrians.
Not surprisingly, the Chamber of Commerce neglected to inform the 355 voters that existing law already prohibits this.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 14, 2010 @ 1:21 pm