Meet the proponents of sit / lie

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Arthur Evans
Rebecca Bowe

It’s easy to find opponents of the city’s proposed sit /lie ordinance in San Francisco. This past Saturday, April 24, dozens of them organized over Facebook, inviting people to join in on events like drag shows, barbecues, and board game matches, all out on the sidewalk. The law’s proponents, meanwhile, haven’t been quite as visible since the great sit/lie debate began. But yesterday, April 28, the Guardian attended a press conference at the Tenderloin Police Station hosted by citizens who back the controversial law against sitting or lying down on the sidewalk. 

The press conference was organized by a Tenderloin organization called the Community Leadership Alliance, led by David Villalobos, and billed as residents of the Haight and the Tenderloin standing together in support of the law. Six people offered comments, while eight others (including a police captain and six representatives from C-Two Hotels) stood there but didn't say anything.
 
The star speaker was Arthur Evans, a vociferous supporter who says he has lived at the corner of Haight and Ashbury for 35 years (for a very detailed description of Evans’ opinion, you can browse the comment forums of Guardian articles on sit /lie). He characterized the idea that the law “criminalizes sitting on the sidewalk” as false, since the ordinance provides for issuing warnings before citations.

To us, it still sounds like the ordinance criminalizes sitting on the sidewalk. The text reads: “In the City and County of San Francisco, during the hours between seven a.m. and 11 p.m., it is unlawful to sit or lie down upon a public sidewalk, or upon a blanket, chair, stool, or any other object placed on a public sidewalk.”

Evans also charged that critics’ representations of the law as “an attack on the homeless” are false, because based on his own surveys of the Haight's sidewalk occupants, he’s discovered that they did not become homeless in San Francisco at all. Instead, he’s determined that they are "migratory packs of addicts and alcoholics that move up and down the West Coast and look for places where there is weak law enforcement and an abundance of drugs.” (And here you thought they were troubled youths fleeing dysfunctional homes, drawn to historic icons of counterculture like the famous San Francisco intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets.)

Others who spoke included Edward Evans, a wheelchair-bound man who said seniors and disabled people should be able to “traverse our sidewalks in peace and harmony.” A woman from a new Tenderloin neighborhood group said she felt unsafe on the streets, and that the sit / lie ordinance “has nothing to do with human rights, but with human needs.” (The need to walk around on the sidewalk in peace, that is.) And Ted Loewenberg of the Haight Ashbury Improvement Association relayed a heart-wrenching story about a woman who, this one time, had to cross the street to get to her destination because she felt intimidated by people sitting on the sidewalk with their dogs and camping gear.

Another speaker was Community Leadership Alliance chair Scott Caroen, who runs a nightclub near the edge of the Tenderloin called the Infusion Lounge -- "catering to both dancing hipsters and young professionals looking to relax in style," according to its Web site. He said one of the main reasons he supports the ordinance is that “it may also reduce the overall homeless population in San Francisco, by discouraging people from coming to our city to beg for money.” Chatting with reporters after the press conference, Caroen -- a young, well-dressed guy with sandy blond hair -- noted that “tourists are shocked” by the behavior of people on the streets, and said his family members are just appalled by what they see in the Tenderloin when they come to visit. Caroen moved to San Francisco five years ago from Howell, Michigan (pop. 9,232), and said it took him awhile just to get comfortable walking down the city streets. “You get seasoned to it, you get hardened to it,” he said, adding that he, for one, has learned to not give money to panhandlers.

When we asked Caroen whether his group supports increased investment in homeless services, since that could help alleviate the problem of people sitting and lying in the streets with nowhere else to go, he said, “That’s a whole other topic.”

Tenderloin Police Station Captain Dominic Celaya was there in support, a representative from the mayor’s office came out, and C.W. Nevius made an appearance. Arthur Evans and Villalobos took jabs at Sups. Ross Mirkarimi and Chris Daly, who weren't there, saying they deserved no thanks for addressing this source of outrage. (Apparently, they haven’t heard that that Daly has proposed his own ban on lying on the sidewalk.) Some politicians got the recognition they deserved, however, as Villalobos lauded Mayor Gavin Newsom as “one of the finest mayors we’ve ever had.” So there.

We have met the proponents of sit / lie, and we can safely say that they are not having as much fun on the city sidewalks as the law’s opponents.

Comments

The Community Leadership Alliance is a group in name only. They are comprised of the people who showed up at the meeting and nobody else. One of their members is a registered sex offender. They are a farce and no one should take them seriously.

I think there are valid reasons for wanting a sit/lie ordinance but the sit/lie ordinance will not address those issues.

As we say in the tenderloin, drug dealers are the problem. They prey on people in this neighborhood who have mental health and substance abuse issues. But drug dealer do not sit and they do not lie on the street. This ordinance will not help.

Posted by Guest Harold and Maude on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

The CLA is one of the city's oldest and most respected community benefit-neighborhood services organization's. It was founded in 1981, and is made up of nine (9) distinguished executive board/adviser members, none of which are sex offenders. Our community forums are open to the public, if a sex offender should happen to be in attendance, we would have no way of knowing. And if a sex offender should wonder into one of our community forums, well, he or she is at least doing something honorable-productive.

Our annual membership is $125.00, a bit steep, and most of our dues paying members are property and/or business owners.

We encourage folks to visit our web-site to learn a bit more about us before condemning our organization and its honorable efforts. We serve our constituents for gratis. And although we do maintain office's, and have operating costs, our work within our communities of service comes at a cost to now one, nor are we funded by any branch of government.

The CLA is made up of real living and breathing "PEOPLE", each proud to be envolved with the name: Community Leadership Alliance.

TOGETHER we can
http://www.CommunityLeadershipAlliance.net

Posted by Guest CLA on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

Thank you, Rebecca Bowe, for your coverage of the press conference yesterday on behalf of the Civil Sidewalks Law. I'm sorry you didn't come up and introduce yourself after the proceedings. I would have been delighted to meet you and answer your concerns and questions in more detail. Nothing beats face-to-face, goodwill communication.

So I guess we'll have to settle for a dialog here. For the sake of completeness of the record, below is a more detailed response to the fallacious arguments made so far by opponents of the Civil Sidewalks Law.

The Law Restricts Public Access to Sidewalks

False. Exactly the opposite is the case. This is a sidewalk-civility law. It recognizes that the public has a right to civility and safety on sidewalks. Incivility and danger intimidate people from using sidewalks, especially in at-risk neighborhoods. The law provides a tool for keeping thugs from turning public sidewalks into their own turf. The thugs especially target women, the elderly, and gay men for their abuse.

The Law Is Unconstitutional

False. It’s modeled after a law in Seattle that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld against constitutional challenges. The jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit includes San Francisco.

The Law Is an Attack on the City’s Homeless

False. Only a small minority of the city’s street people are San Francisco residents who have become homeless. Most are migratory addicts and alcoholics who wander up and down the West Coast in search of easy access to drugs and weak law enforcement. In any case, the law targets behavior, not status – the behavior of colonizing public spaces for personal (and often illegal) purposes, to the exclusion of others.

The Law Criminalizes Sitting on the Sidewalk

False. It specifies that there shall be a warning only for first-time offenders, with no criminal sanctions. In most cities that have a sit-lie law, citations are rare, and court prosecutions even rarer. The purpose of the law is to give police the ability to keep sidewalks open and accessible for everyone, not blocked by an aggressive few.

The Law is Not Needed

False. San Francisco police are not allowed to tell sidewalk squatters to move along without first having a formal civilian complaint. Many civilians, especially small-store owners, are reluctant to file formal complaints because of the fear of retaliation. No other California city imposes this limitation on police. It’s the result of two arcane General Orders of the Police Commission, which I tried to change in the latter 90s. They resulted from a lawsuit in the early 90s, and the Commission may not readily rescind them.

More Foot Patrols, Without This Law, Are the Answer

False. Foot patrols are hampered by the restrictions mentioned above. Advocating more foot patrols while opposing the sit-lie law is like driving a car with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake.

In sum:

The Civil Sidewalks Law will make the city’s sidewalks civil, safe, and accessible for all. It should be supported in the name of reason and progress.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

Could you please cite where in the charter that a formal civilian complaint is required?

"False. San Francisco police are not allowed to tell sidewalk squatters to move along without first having a formal civilian complaint. Many civilians, especially small-store owners, are reluctant to file formal complaints because of the fear of retaliation. No other California city imposes this limitation on police. It’s the result of two arcane General Orders of the Police Commission, which I tried to change in the latter 90s. They resulted from a lawsuit in the early 90s, and the Commission may not readily rescind them."

Thanks,

Mark

Posted by Mark on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

Yes, because those events have SO much to do with the substance of the law.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

This fake community event was put on by a single business/political cabal masquerading as several different groups.
The “astroturf” rally was organized by “C-Two Hotels” which is a part of a commercial real estate company and employs “Community Leadership Alliance”, Chairman Scott Caroen. They are a group of business people concerned with making money for themselves, and they make clear their wish for people to be arrested for sitting on the sidewalk by supporting this ill-concieved law.
This is part of CLA executive director David Villa-Lobos’ campaign to be elected supervisor. His campaign website features a picture of him wearing a Gavin Newsom T-shirt. Big surprise.
San Francisco doesn't need any more Gavin Newsom clones, and San Francisco doesn’t need a law that puts people in jail for sitting on the sidewalk.

This same exact group of arrogant so-called “community and business leaders” rallied recently to protest nuns serving soup to the poor and the hungry.
David Villa-Lobos, Scott Caroen, Edward Evans, and the Community Leadership Alliance also organized a meeting recently to put a stop to services for the downtrodden and less fortunate in the Tenderloin. The same group of commercial real estate owners from C-Two Hotels also lent their support in the fight against food for poor people.

blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2009/02/tenderloin_activist_squabble.php

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

Folks should visit the Community Leadership Alliance's web-site for a clear and accurate understanding of this very real-credible organization. Folks should agree to disagree, but should not condemn an honorable non profit organization such as the CLA.

Posted by Guest CLA on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 8:31 pm

The CLA is one of the city's oldest and most respected community benefit-neighborhood services organization's. It was founded in 1981, and is made up of nine (9) distinguished executive board/adviser members, none of which are sex offenders. Our community forums are open to the public, if a sex offender should happen to be in attendance, we would have no way of knowing. And if a sex offender should wonder into one of our community forums, well, he or she is at least doing something honorable-productive.

Our annual membership is $125.00, a bit steep, and most of our dues paying members are property and/or business owners.

We encourage folks to visit our web-site to learn a bit more about us before condemning our organization and its honorable efforts. We serve our constituents for gratis. And although we do maintain office's, and have operating costs, our work within our communities of service comes at a cost to now one, nor are we funded by any branch of government.

The CLA is made up of real living and breathing "PEOPLE", each proud to be envolved with the name: Community Leadership Alliance.

TOGETHER we can
http://www.CommunityLeadershipAlliance.net

Posted by Guest CLA on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

Again the so-called CLA has no base in District 6 and they are nothing more than a trojan horse for David Villa-Lobos's political ambitions.

This is not a real group and they shouldn't be taken seriously. But the media are easy dupes. Have a decent website, stage a press event and presto chango you are a valid community group.

There are real safety reasons to ask for a sit/lie law, though I find it interesting that this discussion is happening when crime stats have gone down dramatically over the last few years.

But I think it is telling to me that the groups for it have no real base in the community...

Posted by Guest Harold and Maude on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 8:53 am

Opponents of the Civil Sidewalks Law typically sling slanders at the life and character of those who dare to disagree with their dogmas. That's their idea of having a political debate. You see that practice in this thread. And in the name of progressive politics!

A better, and more intelligent, way is to focus on the issues, relying on evidence and logic.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 9:12 am

Could you please cite where in the charter that a formal civilian complaint is required?

"False. San Francisco police are not allowed to tell sidewalk squatters to move along without first having a formal civilian complaint..."
Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

So you're all about "evidence and logic," huh Arthur? Is it logical to dispute that this law criminalizes sitting on sidewalks, simply because it calls for a warning? Well then I guess it's also legal for people on bikes to run stop lights because they last time I got pulled over by a cop for doing so, he let me off with a warning. Be real and admit that this law explicitly criminalizes sitting and lying on sidewalks, in plain language. That's its entire purpose. You can argue that the problem is harassment, drugs, intimidation, and terrorizing gays and the elderly, but those behaviors are already illegal and they aren't addressed by this law at all. This law does one thing and one thing only: it criminalizes sitting or lying on sidewalks. The rest of your rationalizing and hyperbolic anecdotes have nothing to do with logic or evidence.

Posted by steven on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 9:40 am

That if the cops just issue warnings, the kids Arthur complains about aren't going to pay any attention. At best, they'll stand up (not illegal) and walk someplace else on Haight St. (not illegal) and then sit down again when the cops are gone. And then the cops will have to come back (costs money) and arrest the kids (costs money) and the kids will sit in jail, maybe (costs money) and then get released because the D.A. won't prosecute this mickey-mouse first offense stuff and they'll be back, Probably more angry and defiant. And the city will have spent a lot of money, and the problem won't go away. Think this through, folks. It makes no sense.

Posted by tim on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 10:17 am

Oh, for heavens sake! I am disabled and I walk all over the place with no problems. This is just made up.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 10:57 am

I love how in the same press conference we're told by one person that this law is not an "attack on the homeless" and then told by another person that he supports the ordinance because it may "reduce the overall homeless population in San Francisco."

They need to work on their messaging. : )

Posted by Andy_Blue on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 11:03 am

I'm shocked by opponents' lack of attacks on the Haight Ashbury Improvement Association (HAIA), which is a supporter of the Civil Streets Law.

So far, all their venom in this thread has been directed against the Community Leadership Alliance (CLA). However, the president of HAIA also spoke at the news conference in favor of the Civil Streets Law.

Are the opponents going soft on HAIA, or what?

In case they need to sharpen their claws a bit, below is the website for HAIA.

Scratch away!

http://sites.google.com/site/sfhaiasf/

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

Could you please cite where in the charter that a formal civilian complaint is required?

"False. San Francisco police are not allowed to tell sidewalk squatters to move along without first having a formal civilian complaint..."
Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

There is no such thing as a sidewalks civility law, and a law that clearly and only makes sitting illegal does not address civility in any shape or form.

Furthermore, while you constantly whine and complain about the vile attacks from 'progressives,' when you are presented with a straightforward argument _it is you who creates diversions_ and actually eggs people on to attack your allies so that we can leave a logical discussion.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 3:02 pm

4/30/10
Captain’s Comments:
Re: Community Leadership Alliance’s Sit/Lie Press Conference

Greetings All,

This past week I attended a press conference that was held at
Tenderloin Station’s Community Room regarding the proposed “Sit/Lie”
Ordinance. Present at the press conference were individuals and
representatives of different community groups in favor of the
proposed legislation. These individuals and groups were predominantly
from the Haight/Ashbury, the Tenderloin and South of Market areas.

What was interesting to me was how much misinformation, or lack of
knowledge people still have regarding key points on this subject (in
particular, the laws we have, or more importantly, don’t have). As an
example, a news reporter spoke with and interviewed me afterwards and
even she was unaware of the current laws and thought there was simply
a catch all ”No Loitering” law (which there is not!). I went on to
explain to her the current laws we have that address quality of life
issues and also the drawbacks to those laws. The proposed Sit/Lie Ordinance alleviates those drawbacks, the most crucial one being that
there would not be the need for a citizen complaint in order for the
Police to take action.

She informed me that opponents told her they feared Police abuse. My
response to this is simple. We are dedicated to serving our
communities, protecting our citizens and their rights. We are
well-trained and we are professional. In this day of increasing
modernization and Information Technology, etc., the modern Police
Officer still uses this as a baseline: Common Sense.

The Sit/Lie Ordinance is being proposed in response to public outcry
for protection from sidewalk obstruction and harassment, providing
for safe and adequate pedestrian passage on pubic thoroughfares
during peak hours of pedestrian traffic. The main goal is to protect
public safety and neighborhood vitality. Frankly, we are not looking
to cite the 9 year old kid with a skateboard, or the person sitting
on their luggage waiting to be picked up, or someone coming outside
to sit and eat while on a lunch break. (And just in case there are
any lapses in Common Sense, the proposed law mandates that we give a
warning before any citations/arrests, allowing for those to explain
or correct their behavior.)

Captain Dominic Celaya, Tenderloin Police Station

Posted by Guest CLA on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

4/30/10
Captain’s Comments:
Re: Community Leadership Alliance’s Sit/Lie Press Conference

Greetings All,

This past week I attended a press conference that was held at
Tenderloin Station’s Community Room regarding the proposed “Sit/Lie”
Ordinance. Present at the press conference were individuals and
representatives of different community groups in favor of the
proposed legislation. These individuals and groups were predominantly
from the Haight/Ashbury, the Tenderloin and South of Market areas.

What was interesting to me was how much misinformation, or lack of
knowledge people still have regarding key points on this subject (in
particular, the laws we have, or more importantly, don’t have). As an
example, a news reporter spoke with and interviewed me afterwards and
even she was unaware of the current laws and thought there was simply
a catch all ”No Loitering” law (which there is not!). I went on to
explain to her the current laws we have that address quality of life
issues and also the drawbacks to those laws. The proposed Sit/Lie Ordinance alleviates those drawbacks, the most crucial one being that
there would not be the need for a citizen complaint in order for the
Police to take action.

She informed me that opponents told her they feared Police abuse. My
response to this is simple. We are dedicated to serving our
communities, protecting our citizens and their rights. We are
well-trained and we are professional. In this day of increasing
modernization and Information Technology, etc., the modern Police
Officer still uses this as a baseline: Common Sense.

The Sit/Lie Ordinance is being proposed in response to public outcry
for protection from sidewalk obstruction and harassment, providing
for safe and adequate pedestrian passage on pubic thoroughfares
during peak hours of pedestrian traffic. The main goal is to protect
public safety and neighborhood vitality. Frankly, we are not looking
to cite the 9 year old kid with a skateboard, or the person sitting
on their luggage waiting to be picked up, or someone coming outside
to sit and eat while on a lunch break. (And just in case there are
any lapses in Common Sense, the proposed law mandates that we give a
warning before any citations/arrests, allowing for those to explain
or correct their behavior.)

Captain Dominic Celaya, Tenderloin Police Station

Posted by Guest CLA on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 5:50 pm

4/30/10
Captain’s Comments:
Re: Community Leadership Alliance’s Sit/Lie Press Conference

Greetings All,

This past week I attended a press conference that was held at
Tenderloin Station’s Community Room regarding the proposed “Sit/Lie”
Ordinance. Present at the press conference were individuals and
representatives of different community groups in favor of the
proposed legislation. These individuals and groups were predominantly
from the Haight/Ashbury, the Tenderloin and South of Market areas.

What was interesting to me was how much misinformation, or lack of
knowledge people still have regarding key points on this subject (in
particular, the laws we have, or more importantly, don’t have). As an
example, a news reporter spoke with and interviewed me afterwards and
even she was unaware of the current laws and thought there was simply
a catch all ”No Loitering” law (which there is not!). I went on to
explain to her the current laws we have that address quality of life
issues and also the drawbacks to those laws. The proposed Sit/Lie Ordinance alleviates those drawbacks, the most crucial one being that
there would not be the need for a citizen complaint in order for the
Police to take action.

She informed me that opponents told her they feared Police abuse. My
response to this is simple. We are dedicated to serving our
communities, protecting our citizens and their rights. We are
well-trained and we are professional. In this day of increasing
modernization and Information Technology, etc., the modern Police
Officer still uses this as a baseline: Common Sense.

The Sit/Lie Ordinance is being proposed in response to public outcry
for protection from sidewalk obstruction and harassment, providing
for safe and adequate pedestrian passage on pubic thoroughfares
during peak hours of pedestrian traffic. The main goal is to protect
public safety and neighborhood vitality. Frankly, we are not looking
to cite the 9 year old kid with a skateboard, or the person sitting
on their luggage waiting to be picked up, or someone coming outside
to sit and eat while on a lunch break. (And just in case there are
any lapses in Common Sense, the proposed law mandates that we give a
warning before any citations/arrests, allowing for those to explain
or correct their behavior.)

Captain Dominic Celaya, Tenderloin Police Station

Posted by Guest CLA on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

4/30/10
Captain’s Comments:
Re: Community Leadership Alliance’s Sit/Lie Press Conference

Greetings All,

This past week I attended a press conference that was held at
Tenderloin Station’s Community Room regarding the proposed “Sit/Lie”
Ordinance. Present at the press conference were individuals and
representatives of different community groups in favor of the
proposed legislation. These individuals and groups were predominantly
from the Haight/Ashbury, the Tenderloin and South of Market areas.

What was interesting to me was how much misinformation, or lack of
knowledge people still have regarding key points on this subject (in
particular, the laws we have, or more importantly, don’t have). As an
example, a news reporter spoke with and interviewed me afterwards and
even she was unaware of the current laws and thought there was simply
a catch all ”No Loitering” law (which there is not!). I went on to
explain to her the current laws we have that address quality of life
issues and also the drawbacks to those laws. The proposed Sit/Lie Ordinance alleviates those drawbacks, the most crucial one being that
there would not be the need for a citizen complaint in order for the
Police to take action.

She informed me that opponents told her they feared Police abuse. My
response to this is simple. We are dedicated to serving our
communities, protecting our citizens and their rights. We are
well-trained and we are professional. In this day of increasing
modernization and Information Technology, etc., the modern Police
Officer still uses this as a baseline: Common Sense.

The Sit/Lie Ordinance is being proposed in response to public outcry
for protection from sidewalk obstruction and harassment, providing
for safe and adequate pedestrian passage on pubic thoroughfares
during peak hours of pedestrian traffic. The main goal is to protect
public safety and neighborhood vitality. Frankly, we are not looking
to cite the 9 year old kid with a skateboard, or the person sitting
on their luggage waiting to be picked up, or someone coming outside
to sit and eat while on a lunch break. (And just in case there are
any lapses in Common Sense, the proposed law mandates that we give a
warning before any citations/arrests, allowing for those to explain
or correct their behavior.)

Captain Dominic Celaya, Tenderloin Police Station

Posted by Guest CLA on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

" The Community Leadership Alliance provides its constituency with a direct link to their city and state, uniting the diverse political opinions and advancing values of opportunity,fairness and responsibility"

Gavin Newsom, Mayor

Posted by Guest CLA on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

What does the mayor think of your fight to stop nuns from feeding soup to people who are hungry and poor?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

In a post above, "Guest" says:

"There is no such thing as a sidewalks civility law."

I love watching people get rattled when they're confronted by new ideas that they can't fit into their existing presuppositions.

Such is now the case with the idea of the public's right to civility in public places. Certain San Francisco ideologues can't handle it.

They will have to adapt. This is an idea whose time has come.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

Please cite your source for a "Right to Civility in Public Places".
What authority grants this to Americans?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

And I like seeing people getting rattled over nothing.

As much as I love the Euphemism Arthur enjoys using - lets call this law exactly what it is "Sit /Lie" - Civility demands incivility to exist.

Civil disobedience, Civil court, Civil war.

The only "right" to civility I've witnessed in America is at the business end of a loaded weapon.

What was it the NRA used to say "An armed society is a (polite) civil society"?

Posted by TheLaw on May. 25, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

Could you please cite where in the charter that a formal civilian complaint is required?

"False. San Francisco police are not allowed to tell sidewalk squatters to move along without first having a formal civilian complaint..."
Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

In a post above, "Guest" says:

"There is no 'right' to 'civility'."

This is the issue that the voters will decide in November when the Civil Sidewalks Law goes before them at the ballot box.

I can't wait to see to see opponents of the Civil Sidewalks La standing up and claiming that the public has no right to civility in public places. And in the name of progressive politics, no less.

This is going to be rich, folks!

"Guest" also says:

"Could you please cite where in the charter that a formal civilian complaint is required?"

I see that "Guest" has not been paying attention again.

No one ever claimed that the charter was the problem.

The problem is caused by two General Orders of the Police Commission:

(1) General Order 5.03 I.A., adopted 8/17/94, provides that police may not direct people to move along based on "general complaints from residents, merchants or others."

(2) General Order 6.11 II.E.3, adopted 8/17/94, provides that police may not conclude that people are blocking the sidewalk unless "officers shall make reasonable efforts to identify, but at least, must describe person(s) who were obstructed by the party to be arrested or cited."

The implication of the above two General Orders is that police may not act on their own in directing people to move along, not even in the context of general complaints, but must be able to identify a particular civilian who is willing to complain of the obstruction.

In the mid 1990s, others and I worked with then-captain Jim Long of Park Station to have the Police Commission rescind these General Orders. It was a big deal, with lots of public debate.

The Commission refused, saying these two General Orders were the result of a court settlement from a civil suit and that the Commission could not revoke such a settlement.

Some weeks ago, I brought these General Orders to the attention of Commissioner Petra de Jesus at a meeting of the Police Commission, after she had challenged the need for the Civil Sidewalks Law.

She said she never heard of them. Yet she is a member of the Commission that created them. (D'oh!)

The Civil Sidewalks Law will correct the problem caused by these two General Orders and restore the public's right to civility in public places.

Let's work together to make our neighborhoods safe, clean, and peaceful.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

In a post above Arthur Evans states:

'I love watching people get rattled when they're confronted by new ideas that they can't fit into their existing presuppositions.

Such is now the case with the idea of the public's right to civility in public places. Certain San Francisco ideologues can't handle it.

They will have to adapt. This is an idea whose time has come.'

This law bans sitting in public space. It does not address civility in any way. People can stand up and do every thing that you have alleged that happens already. They can do this with more venom and have the potential to be in the attack position, whereas if they are sitting down they can not yell as loud, follow you, or spit as accurately in your direction (which is already illegal).

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 10:52 pm

"Guest" says above:

"This law bans sitting in public space. It does not address civility in any way."

Once again, "Guest" has ignored the whole body of material that has been presented at length in numerous venues, including various threads at SF Gay Guardian. How often does this material have to be reintroduced? How much leeway must we allow for Guest's short-term memory loss?

Packs of migratory addicts and alcoholics flock to SF from across the state and nation, in search of easy access to drugs and lax law enforcement. They have created a toxic subculture for themselves based on addiction and hostility to recovery programs. They squat in public spaces, colonizing them for themselves, to the exclusion of others.

The migratory addicts and alcoholics become rooted in these public spaces as their nests, fanning out from them and returning to them. They use them as bases for drug dealing, assaults on residents, urination and defecation, setting fires, dumping used hypodermic needles in parks, spray-painting graffiti, and other activities that destabllize neighborhoods.

These activities are all grounded on the geography of incivility - the turf that the squatters grab and colonize as their own.

The police have difficulty in dealing with these turf seizures because of the irrational requirement of needing a formal civilian complaint before they can act to unblock sidewalks. The proposed Civil Sidewalks Law will help level the playing field, giving the police a needed tool in restoring public civility and safety, especially in at-risk neighborhoods.

Let's support the right of the public to civility in public places by supporting the Civil Sidewalks Law.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 11:40 pm

The General Order clearly states that the officer may direct people to move along without a formal civilian complaint.
The officer merely needs to "make reasonable efforts to identify" and "at least, must describe person(s) who were obstructed"
The officer doesn't even need a name from the person obstructed.
Just a description.

(2) General Order 6.11 II.E.3, adopted 8/17/94, provides that police may not conclude that people are blocking the sidewalk unless "officers shall make reasonable efforts to identify, but at least, must describe person(s) who were obstructed by the party to be arrested or cited."
-Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

"San Francisco police are not allowed to tell sidewalk squatters to move along without first having a formal civilian complaint"
-Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2010 @ 1:15 am

General Order 6.11 states that sidewalks cannot be obstructed, only persons, and that a civilian must first complain before the police can act.

The distinction between blocking sidewalks and blocking individuals is absurd. The problem with the migratory addicts and alcoholics is that they colonize public spaces even when no civilians are present. The migratory addicts and alcoholics then use the colonized spaces as bases for their operations.

As things now stand, police cannot act on their own in such cases because no civilian is being obstructed, although public space is being colonized and obstructed.

An officer who directs sidewalk squatters to move along without first having a civilian complaint can be brought up before the Office Of Citizens Complaints and disciplined for police misconduct. Yes, this has happened. It's a preposterous situation.

Here's the full text in question:

"A street or sidewalk cannot be obstructed, only a person. When arrests are made for violation of either 647cPC or 22 MPC, officers shall make reasonable efforts to identify, but at least, must describe person(s) who were obstructed by the party to be arrested or cited."

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 01, 2010 @ 7:04 am

That was not "the full text in question"

This is:
"Obstruction" means intentionally placing one's body in the normal path
of a person's approach causing the person's "free movement" to be
obstructed. Causing a slight deviation in a pedestrian's path does
not necessarily constitute an illegal obstruction, nor does the mere presence of
a person on a sidewalk. A street or sidewalk cannot be obstructed, only a
person. When arrests are made for violation of either 647c PC or 22 MPC,
officers shall make reasonable efforts to identify, but at least, must describe
person(s) who were obstructed by the party to be arrested or cited.

sf-police.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=14761

Easy to see why you've been dancing around it.
This law explicitly states that the presence of a person on a sidewalk is not a crime.
This is a reasonable law that, to use your catchphrase, "makes the city’s sidewalks civil, safe, and accessible for all. "

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2010 @ 12:03 pm

What was the subject of the lawsuit against the City of San Francisco that led to creation of General Order 6.11 in 1994?

“It’s the result of two arcane General Orders of the Police Commission, which I tried to change in the latter 90s. They resulted from a lawsuit in the early 90s,”
Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 29, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

“The Commission refused, saying these two General Orders were the result of a court settlement from a civil suit and that the Commission could not revoke such a settlement.”
Posted by Arthur Evans on Apr. 30, 2010 @ 10:28 pm

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

In a post above, “Guest” says:

“This law explicitly states that the presence of a person on a sidewalk is not a crime.”

The issue is not “presence.” The issue is squatting on sidewalks, blocking them.

The police, acting on their own, cannot direct squatters to move along. That’s the problem. No other California city has this restriction.

“Guest” also says:

“What was the subject of the lawsuit against the City of San Francisco that led to creation of General Order 6.11 in 1994?”

Good luck to anybody in finding out! The Commission itself doesn’t appear to know. They were surprised when I brought the matter to their attention a few weeks ago.

The Civil Sidewalks Law will resolve these problems. Let’s support it to improve civility and safety in our neighborhoods.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 02, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

Clearly, the lawsuit that resulted in these general orders dealt with police harassment of citizens, which is why these general orders enshine people's rights to be on sidewalks without being told to move along by a cop. The sit-lie law now seeks to restore that power to the police and try to get around its violation of people's rights to use public spaces. Arthur's incivil efforts (using harsh condemnation of kids in the Haight, repeated ad nauseum) to make this about "civility in public spaces" makes this police power grab even more scary. The First Amendment gives us a right to be incivil -- to say unpopular things and assemble publicly to make demands on government and other institutions -- and I don't think most San Franciscans want to willingly give the police more power to silence the unruly. Urban life is a little messy, particularly when you've chosen to live in a neighborhood that has long been popular with young travelers. There are lots of other neighborhoods and cities to chose from if you want to lead a more sanitized life, but you'll have a fight on your hands if you try to have your fears trump our liberties.

Posted by steven on May. 03, 2010 @ 10:01 am

A word of advice to Steven and Guest -

You can continue to make excuses for the absurdities and failures of the status quo if you want to. Such as the absurd claim that sidewalks cannot be obstructed, only individuals. Such as the failure to control the abusive behavior of the city's many migratory addicts and alcoholics.

And you can continue to use tactics that make yourselves look foolish. Such as the many Monty Python moments now proudly on display in the pics at the website for San Francisco Stands Against Sit/Lie.

However, the voters want to see civility, safety, and sanity restored to public places. This is the same desire that led to the victory of Care Not Cash some years ago. And it will lead to the victory of the Civil Sidewalks Law this November.

Civil and safe sidewalks - this is an idea whose time has come.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 03, 2010 @ 11:35 am

I don't make excuses of boorish behavior, but I also don't want to empower the cops to ban it. The bottom line, Arthur, is you're seeking a police crackdown on public life that doesn't meet your standards of civility. You can ignore the civil liberties issues that I raised, but they aren't going away. There is no "right to civility" in either the Constitution or caselaw, and your attempts to have the police create and enforce one will fail.

Posted by steven on May. 03, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

As the following law clearly shows, blocking sidewalks is already against the law.

Police merely need a complaint from a person.
Police do not need a written complaint.
Persons complaining need not face the persons complained about, nor appear in court.
The police officer merely needs to provide a description of complainant.

Arthur Evans is lying.

San Francisco, California, Police Code >> ARTICLE 1: - PUBLIC NUISANCES:
SEC. 22. - OBSTRUCTING ANY STREET, SIDEWALK, PASSAGEWAY OR OTHER PUBLIC WAY PROHIBITED
(a)
No person shall wilfully and substantially obstruct the free passage of any person or persons on any street, sidewalk, passageway or other public place.

library.municode.com/HTML/14140/level1/A1.html
(copy & paste into browser address window)

"The issue is squatting on sidewalks, blocking them."
Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 02, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

Posted by Guest on May. 03, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

I see that "Guest" is still trying to argue that orange is blue. That's hard to do, considering the text of General Order 6.11

Here it is again:

"A street or sidewalk cannot be obstructed, only a person. When arrests are made for violation of either 647CPC or 22 MPC, officers shall make reasonable efforts to identify, but at least, must describe person(s) who were obstructed by the party to be arrested or cited."

This General Order means that the police cannot, acting on their own, direct people who are obstructing sidewalks to move along. The police must identify (that is, name) the person obstructed, or, in the absence of naming the person, describe him or her.

If the police direct sidewalk squatters to move along without satisfying these prerequisites, they can be hauled up before the Office of Citizen Complaints and charged with misconduct.

This requirement sets up small business owners and residents for retaliation in the event that they complain about obstructed sidewalks.

To understand how absurd this requirement is, imagine if police could not act on their own if they saw someone breaking into a store - unless they could first name the store owner, or at least describe him or her.

The police need the ability to keep the city's packs of migratory addicts and alcoholics from colonizing public spaces. The reason the police need this ability is because the sidewalk squatters use their colonized turf as bases for drug dealing and a host of other activities that undermine neighborhoods.

Sidewalk civility and safety are worth fighting for.

Support the Civil Sidewalks Law.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 04, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

this law doesn't addressed being civil on the sidewalks.

Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

In a post above, Guest says:

"this law doesn't addressed being civil on the sidewalks."

That's like saying that laws against drunk driving don't address highway safety.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 05, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

"That's like saying that laws against drunk driving don't address highway safety."

Actually Arthur it's not.

Its like saying laws against drunk driving result in worthless punishments.

Review the current draft of the sit/lie law and tell me how on earth that is going to introduce civility or safety to our sidewalks?

If nothing else it provides encouragement through lessened punishments for crimes where laws already exist with much more effective punishments.

Posted by TheLaw on May. 25, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

drunk driving is always dangerous. sitting in public space is often a great thing that builds community. This law makes it illegal for anyone to sit on the ground, and does not address incivility. As stated earlier, most of the uncivil things that people do are easily and more viscously done standing up. They are also against the law.

Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2010 @ 3:05 pm

Trying to create civility by arresting people for sitting on the sidewalk is like driving a car with one foot on the gas and your head up your ass.

Posted by Guest on May. 05, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

In a post above, Guest says:

"like driving a car with one foot on the gas and your head up your ass"

Thank you for your thoughts on civility.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 06, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

This fake community event was put on by a single business/political cabal masquerading as several different groups.
The “astroturf” rally was organized by “C-Two Hotels” which is a part of a commercial real estate company and employs “Community Leadership Alliance”, Chairman Scott Caroen. They are a group of business people concerned with making money for themselves, and they make clear their wish for people to be arrested for sitting on the sidewalk by supporting this ill-concieved law.
This is part of CLA executive director David Villa-Lobos’ campaign to be elected supervisor. His campaign website features a picture of him wearing a Gavin Newsom T-shirt. Big surprise.
San Francisco doesn't need any more Gavin Newsom clones, and San Francisco doesn’t need a law that puts people in jail for sitting on the sidewalk.

This same exact group of arrogant so-called “community and business leaders” rallied recently to protest nuns serving soup to the poor and the hungry.
David Villa-Lobos, Scott Caroen, Edward Evans, and the Community Leadership Alliance also organized a meeting recently to put a stop to services for the downtrodden and less fortunate in the Tenderloin. The same group of commercial real estate owners from C-Two Hotels also lent their support in the fight against food for poor people.

blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2009/02/tenderloin_activist_squabble.php

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

Chris Daly failed to kill the mayor’s proposed Civil Sidewalks Law (formerly known as the Sit-Lie Law) at a marathon six-hour meeting of the supes’ Public Safety Committee on Monday (May 10). Aided by David Campos, a foul-mouthed Daly relentlessly attacked the measure and its supporters.

At the end of day, the committee’s three members (David Chiu, Ross Mirkarimi, and Bevan Dufty) agreed to continue the item until May 24.

Daly’s failure was all the more remarkable because the proponents of the law did a poor job in defending it. Nicolas King, the mayor’s point person on the issue, hemmed and hawed during his presentation and had difficulty mustering facts to answer objections.

Assistant Chief Kevin Cashman and Commander James Dudley of SFPD were misinformed in regard to a crucial General Order of the Police Commission.

It was apparent that Mayor Gavin Newsom had not properly coordinated the efforts by his own office, the police, and the District Attorney. He will have to do better the next time, or the measure will fail at the supes later this month and possibly at the ballot box in November.

An example of the confusion involved General Order 6.11 of the Police Commission, whose deficiencies the Civil Sidewalks Law aims to correct.

This General Order limits the initiative that police may use on their own when trying to disperse people who are obstructing sidewalk: “Officers shall make reasonable efforts to identify, but at least, must describe person(s) who were obstructed by the party to be arrested or cited.”

David Campos, in grilling Assistant Chief Cashman, got him to admit that this provision does not literally require a formal civilian complaint in order to clear sidewalk obstructions, as the police have repeatedly maintained.

However, Assistant D.A. Paul Henderson later pointed out (after Campos had left the room) that the courts have interpreted these words to require a formal civilian complaint. The mayor had failed to have Cashman and Henderson compare notes on the matter before their testimonies.

In a long diatribe against the measure, Daly scoffed at the change of name of the ordinance from Sit-Lie Law to Civil Sidewalks Law. He said the change was a ploy by the Chamber of Commerce. “You can sugar-coat shit, but it doesn’t make it taste good,” he loudly exclaimed.

In fact, however, I was the one who suggested the name change because the old name doesn’t say anything about the purpose of the law. I have no connection with the Chamber of Commerce.

Daly also scoffed at the public safety crisis that developed in the Haight and which first led to the call for this law. “Haight Street is small potatoes,” he proclaimed.

Daly, Campos, and Chiu each delivered lengthy criticisms of the measure, and each then left the chamber for extended periods before anyone could make responses to their points. Members of the public, who had to compete for limited seating, enjoyed no such privilege during the long, grueling meeting.

I, for one, believe that most of the objections to the current text of the measure could be addressed by changing its thrust. Instead of prohibiting all sitting and lying, while listing certain exceptions, it should prohibit sitting and lying in conjunction with a few specific, enumerated activities (such as panhandling or disturbing the peace) and allow everything else.

In any case, whatever the actual text, it will face an uncertain fate on May 24 unless Gavin Newsom can pull himself away from his current bid to become Lt. Governor of California and take enough time to exert effective leadership as Mayor of San Francisco.

Posted by Arthur Evans on May. 11, 2010 @ 8:28 am

pounding language is a hoot.

Posted by tolerance of others, a one way street on May. 11, 2010 @ 9:38 am

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