No surprise: The Chron hates Ammiano's homeless bill


Why should I be surprised? Assemblymember Tom Ammiano tried to introduce a bill providing some basic human rights for homeless people, and the Chron lashes out with a nasty editorial that misses the entire point.

Ammiano's AB 5 was crafted with the help of homeless advocacy groups, and it's really not that radical a proposal. It would simply guarantee some basic human rights to people who don't have a permanent place to live. It would, for example, forbid employment discrimination against homeless people in employment, public services and voting. It would enshrine in law the right of all people to use public space, including as a place to rest, and would establish that 24-hour access to bathrooms and showers is a basic human right.It would protect the rights of homeless children to attend school. It would guarantee homeless people cited under laws that could lead to criminal sanctions the right to a lawyer.

It would also bar local authorities from forcing people into shelters or other programs without their consent and would guarantee equal treatment from law-enforcement.

Oh, and it would prevent local laws that bar homeless people from occupying vehicles that are legally parked, and precent authorities from taking away the personal property of homeless people.

But to read the Chron's editorial, you'd think the world was coming to an end:

A bill that asserts an individual's right to urinate, sleep and panhandle wherever he wants is neither compassionate nor wise. To pass it would be to surrender our streets and parks to misery, chaos and squalor.

Misery, chaos and squalor? Whoa. As if the lives of homeless people are not already, in many cases, marked by those characteristics.

And really, the bill doesn't talk about the right to "urinate wherever he wants;" it mandates that cities provide accessible bathroom facilities so people don't have to urinate on the streets. "It's not a good idea or even healthy to have a law that says you can piss or shit wherever you want," Pauld Boden, director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, told me. "So having 24-hour access to hygiene centers is a way better alternative."

But of course, Boden said, opponents of the law "are going to try to make it all about urination and defecation. It's a way to dehumanize people."

I don't understand what's wrong with asserting that homeless people have the same human rights as the rest of us. If this undermines bad laws like sit-lie and care not cash, so be it; in a rich state, we can and should do better. (But even the Chron's own reporter says the bill won't undermine SF's sit-lie law).

Ammiano's moving forward with the bill, expecting amendments and open to discussion. But as far as the Chron's editorial goes, he told me" "It reminds me of Robin Williams' comment about a bad review he got '' 'I was going to have a chicken shit on it, but that would be redundant.;"

UPDATE: If you want to see a comparison of the current anti-homeless laws to the "ugly laws," the Jim Crow laws and a lot of other stuff we all now agree was wrong, check it out here (pdf)


you reveal that again ou don't give a crap about the rights of the other 99% of us who don't publicly defecate, abuse passers-by, squat, trespass and generally ferment nuisance.

It's really too bad that you are perfectly willing to ride roughshod over the majority of hard-working, decent, taxpayers because of your inverted sense of snobbery.

The very last thing we need to do is attract more homeless people here by giving them a bunch of (no doubt expensive) "rights".

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

Once its ill-effects are made clear.

We now depend on Jerry Brown to protect us from the extremism of people like Tom Ammiano. No doubt Ammiano's next step will to give "right of passage" to homeless people through private property bordering the public property on which the homeless wish to "rest." Homeless person in your yard? Forget calling the police - YOU'LL be arrested. Homeless person decides they want to use your outdoor shower or hot tub? That's a basic human right.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

sound government and insanity of the type that Ammiano is trying to peddle.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

You have an outdoor shower, Lucretia? Cool. You're the only person I know in SF who has one.

Posted by tim on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

Outside showers are handy from when you get out of your pool or hot tub.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

I hate the homeless... ness... problem.

-Captain Hammer

Posted by Parvo on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

keep offering them free this and equal that, because the other 49 States will continue to bus their homeless populations to us.

Since the homeless currently appear to feel they have the "right" to trespass, publicly urinate, get drunk and drugged up, commit a variety of crimes and constitute a nuisance to the rest of us, it's hard to see or know what extra rights they think they would like. We already coddle and cosset them too much as it is.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

be better than a Homeless Bill of Rights? An end to homelessness and poverty, and adequate help for those suffering from mental illness, substance abuse and other problems.

But until we can solve these entirely man-made problems with just solutions, more power to the efforts of homeless people, their advocates like Paul Boden, and to enlightened politicians like Tom Ammiano.

Presumably, I live in the same city as the hateful trolls (if they indeed live in San Francisco), almost always walk wherever I go, and I find the quality of life here just fine. I'd prefer not to have to dodge distracted smart (makes you dumb) phone users on the sidewalk. And I'm saddened by the rapidly increasing visible (and invisible) homeless population caused by the twin effects of the economic depression for most people and the gentrifying effects of the speculative Tech 2.0 bubble for the few.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

Now, how about change that it's actually realsitic to achieve?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

is realistic to acheive. The know how exists, and the resouces exist, but they are accruing to a very small group of people.

You just have a defeatist world-view where you feel beholden to those better off than you and scornful towards those that struggle economically.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

It's just wishful thinking. Most voters don't care.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

I'd prefer to see Ammiano work to move Prop 13 reform before he works on a homeless bill of rights.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

Changing Prop 13 would take years and lead to the political equivalent of civil war.

Ammiano doesn't have the gravitas to do anything with Prop 13.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

Ammiano has a prop. 13 reform bill, too.

Posted by tim on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

I hate homelessness. They make me uncomfortable. They make me sad. Once, they offered me a beer when I was walking to work at 7:00 AM. Once I ran into a friend from high school living on the streets. Once I walked around the block to avoid a homeless man screaming at me.

As a native San Franciscan, I would be lying if I claimed to act as compassionately as I should towards my homeless neighbors, but instead, I just push past, walking at mach speeds and mumble a "sorry no cash" when they ask for change. We are all desensitized to their suffering, but let's face it, there are thousands of PEOPLE wasting away on our streets. Some are homeless "by choice," others victims of addiction, and all victims of bad circumstances, but they deserve equal and fair protections under the law. They are entitled to at least that.

Let's face it, San Francisco smells like urine and if you walk up Polk or down Haight, you will find yourself avoiding human feces. This is an issue of hygiene, but even more, the presence of waste on our sidewalks is a reflection of how we care for our impoverished citizens. Having so many homeless looks bad for San Francisco. Having waste lined sidewalks looks worse. Without access to restrooms, what other choice do they have? They have to urinate, they have to defecate. They aren't monkeys, flinging poop is not an act of contempt, and for the most part, it isn't being flung. If the opposition becomes about urine and feces, I then I ask them for another solution to the San-Francisco-smells-like-pee-pee problem. Providing people without access for four walls and a roof a place to void seems like a great way to keep them from doing it in the streets.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 3:12 pm
Posted by Eddie on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

I'd support setting up a camp for them, in somewhere like Bayview or West Oakland, as long as that was accompanied by laws to ensure they relocate. That way services could be centralized for them in one place, and our streets would be safe and sweet-smelling again.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

Wow, the ultimate NIMBY comment, let's take them elsewhere, as long as it's not in my back yard.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

but this is NEVER going to pass. Not a chance.

Some of the things in Ammiano's bill should absolutely be made policy. Not taking people's possessions without compensation, for instance. Public toilets should be made available to the homeless as well. But they won't use them even if the City provides one on every block. Probably because they are usually in a completely filthy and disgusting state. The reason for this, I believe, is because City workers are tasked with cleaning them. In other words, they don't get cleaned very often. I can't say I blame a guy for not wanting to defecate in a filthy plastic outhouse. I avoid using them myself unless absolutely necessary.

One of the reasons I like the idea of the homeless collecting recycling is because that activity, in a sense, is a form of work. Don't think so? Try pushing a shopping cart around the City for hours and hours and see how tired you get. It's work. The problem is that the money they make often goes to feeding an addiction. But the solution isn't to take the work away, the solution is to try to help them overcome their addiction. And that's why I don't like the bar against forcing people into programs.

If someone is intoxicated on the street, that is a crime. As a society, we decide what the consequences will be for that crime. We can make it a ticket, we can make it jail, or we can make it treatment. If you ask me, treatment is the kindest option. It just makes the most sense. One of the factors of addiction is that it's a mental illness. You don't hear that a lot because alcoholics don't like the stigma associated with that diagnosis, but it's true nonetheless. Are we, as a society, not supposed to take responsibility for helping people who are sick? I think we should. But, then again, I don't make my living based on the continuing misery of those less fortunate... like some in San Francisco do.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 2:12 am

The problem is multiple morbidity, addiction, organic mental problems, PTSD and other artifacts of living on the streets, and the difficulty of crafting custom treatment plans for dealing with the mosaic of problems which any individual might present.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 8:28 am

Given that the voters don't like the homeless and do not want them here, it's a tough sell to get them to support raising taxes to make this place more attractive for homeless people.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 8:37 am

in this comment.

I disagree with two of them.

First, treatment programs for addiction and/or mental illness must be accessible to all and much more readily available. However, no one should be forced into it. I applaud Adachi's efforts to insure that substance abusers don't lose their freedom without due process of law. I don't believe that everyone should have free reign to do whatever they want (especially when it negatively impacts others, like robbing someone of money to feed a habit), but criminalization of social problems and coercion into treatment is a losing strategy.

Second, the vast, vast majority of people who make a living helping those less fortunate are committed to alleviating the problems on which they work. No doubt there are some poverty pimps who take advantage of the social service system, but most people in the helping professions aren't doing it to enrich themselves. Many of those jobs pay poorly and take a huge emotional toll on those that do them.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 8:36 am

Thanks for the responses guys (I forgot to change the "Guest" in the original post to my "Snoozers" handle), you made some excellent points. I agree that not all of my conclusions stand up to scrutiny. It will be interesting to see how much of this bill Ammiano will have to change in order to get it through. Tom might not have all the answers, but he's never been one to sit back and ignore a problem. You gotta admire him for that.

Posted by Snoozers on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

Those who get paid to mitigate the plight of the less fortunate, "the most vulnerable," only get paid so long as their work does nothing to end social problems. They see this as part of their middle class white people's burden and with a healthy dollop of Catholic guilt, carry their burden on their sleeves.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

You always have a lot to say in the way of criticism, but little or nothing in the way of real solutions to problems. I think that's why I stopped listening to you a good while ago.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

perfectly right and perfectly ineffectual, than sometimes wrong but also sometimes get something done.

The easiest job in the world is sitting in an armchair criticizing other liberals. The scope is almost endless, of course - it's a soft target.

A crappy "job" but, as they say, someone's gotta do it.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

There are two curves, one reflects progressive losses and the other reflects progressive gains. When the rate of increase of the progressive loss curve increases by some factor and the progressive win curve decreases by some larger factor such that it becomes mathematically impossible to win, then we've either got to figure out new ways to bring those curves into alignment or just give up the farce and quit the game. That anyone gets paid to rack up this record of loss is simply beyond me, especially in housing, we're getting our clocks cleaned.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 10, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

How about we aim policies for desired outcomes an recalibrate those policies back towards those outcomes as results based feedback becomes known?

We're in a situation where the results don't line up with the desired outcomes and progressives are more afraid of hurting their friends' feelings or seeing their friends lose jobs that are not achieving the desired policy outcomes than in making the difficult choices and doing the hard work required to get the outcomes.

The fact that people take actions for what they say are good reasons does not mean that those actions achieve desired goals. There is a fixation on tactics, throwing good money after bad, that is meaningless at best without a strategic contextualization.

Democratic control of these nonprofits and labor by the community they try to serve and the community at large is essential as well.

What does it mean that so people who have not themselves been able to stay in SF and commute in from the East Bay hold power in progressive politics via the nonprofits and labor? Where is the autonomous self determination in that shit?

Autonomous self determination where the people closest to the problems are the ones democratically solving them would be the answer to most on "the left." But the fixation on bowing deepest in service to the "most vulnerable," being seen being tactical, has trumped any honest strategic assessment.

If San Franciscans were given space to self organize by labor and the nonprofits, then they'd probably not craft a politics that holds 2/3 of the electorate in contempt. I'm just sayin...

Posted by marcos on Dec. 10, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

You claim that 2/3 of the voters are "held in contempt".

But 2/3 of the voters can win any election. If anything it is the other 1/3 who are effectively disenfranchised.

Mayors like Brown, Newsom and Lee won with something like 2/3 of the vote. Problem?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 10, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

private-sector development?

And not when it is about reducing crime and nuisances?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 7:57 am

But of course, Boden said, opponents of the law "are going to try to make it all about urination and defecation. It's a way to dehumanize people."

They always do. That's what the hateful, reactionary right-wing did during the sit-lie campaign, and most recently for supporting the removal of benches at Milk Plaza. The right-wing love to talk about urination and defecation. They just love it! They go on for HOURS (and reams of posts) about urination and defecation. They can't get enough of it! I think it must be a sexual thing for them, if you know what I mean. It would have to be, as much time as they spend thinking about it---and possibly their own constipation---and making up stories about it for their agenda (of hating the homeless).

That hateful publication---when are they going to go out of business?---despises and hates the homeless which also unfortunately helps to program the unthinking sheep with the same hate who read the thing.

Glad Tom is going forward with his bill.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 06, 2012 @ 10:48 pm

Or, we could just burn them for fuel. But I'd hate to deprive Tim of the pungent aroma of sidewalk feces that so enchants him. It's a tough decision. But at some point, the solution must absolutely involve free stuff. Or higher taxes. Or both.

Posted by Chromefields on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 11:14 am

But I'd rather just recycle the homeless to whence they came. Making life here a happy party for them will have the opposite effect.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 11:24 am

Advocating the murder of homeless people as a feeble attempt at humor (I hope).

Humor and metaphor elucidate one's thought process. And yours certainly is genocidal. "Kill, kill, kill, kill the poor." Thank you Jello and the DKs.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 11:31 am

"the right of all people to use public space, including as a place to rest"

... and shoot up and/or fuck.

"it mandates that cities provide accessible bathroom facilities so people don't have to urinate on the streets"

... so they can shoot up and/or fuck in peace.

"guarantee homeless people cited under laws that could lead to criminal sanctions the right to a lawyer"

... to defend their right to shoot up and/or fuck wherever they please.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 11:24 am

is a natural biological urge. Just because someone is homeless, she doesn't lose her humanity, even though you and your ilk would like to deny it to the homeless.

Either crawl back under your rock or help craft solutions to solvable problerms. Hopefully you and Chromefields won't meet and reproduce to create a new generation of mass murderers.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 11:37 am

Looks like someone has a prurient interest in fixating on homeless people fucking, preferably with a scat and/or water sports component.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 11:44 am

I hope you are not referring to me. Anyways, I would think you would agree with my point: homeless people remain people.

Some here are advocating using them as fuel.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 12:00 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

People who know me find me irreverent and witty. (I hope I don't come off as boastful).

However, I find neither homelessness nor jokes about killing the homeless funny.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

We'll carefully leave them alive as we amputate their limbs and excise their internal organs one by one, over time, under medical supervision, and sell them to Chinatown restaurants. And you're right: acting humanely does make me feel better about myself.

Posted by Chromefields on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 12:36 pm


Posted by marcos on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

See, that's the thing. Something is either funny or it's not. It's not funny if it lambasts Bush but not if it skewers a sacred or holy cow of the left.

If a joke is funny when applied to racists, it funny when applied to a race. You don't get to decide what's funny based on your own politics.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

what is funny depending on his/her own tastes. I don't remember finding most jokes about Bush particularly funny. Cheap shots by liberals at his poor language skills, etc, distracted from their criticisms of his policies.

I have as much disrespect for the Democrats as I have for the Republicans, though I found the linked video funny even if I didn't vote for Obama:

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

criticize someone else who found jokes about the homeless to be amusing?

You just invalidated your own argument!

Posted by Guest on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

to his own sense of humor, of course. But people who find racist jokes funny should still be criticized for their racism. People who advocate burning humans might pretend it's just a joke, but in reality homeless people are still being murdered.

I've wasted enough time on this topic.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 1:48 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

South Park makes jokes about every identity every week and they are not racist, sexist, homophobic or whatever else. The question is whether that humor intended to hurt or whether it makes fun out of human differentiation?

Posted by marcos on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

Relax, I was referring to the original shrill freak out about homeless fucking from the same people who freak out about nudism, the ones who want monogamous marriage to be the norm for gays...the prurient puritans.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 10, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

No, Eddie, to the original post. Many conservatives have their Calvinist panties in a wad and exercise their politics as a fixation on the prurience of others sexual and excretory practices as a way to bolster their sad, pathetic excuses for lives.

It is almost like they're stuck in the Freudian latent period.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 07, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

Related articles

  • A fine dilemma

    Increased citations often hinder homeless youth from finding better life

  • San Francisco's untouchables

    Is San Francisco trying to help the homeless -- or drive them away?

  • Jesus was a socialist