Loitering in San Francisco Sidewalks Now Illegal

Maria Balilo's picture

Loitering in San Francisco  from 7am to 11pm is now considered illegal - thanks to the sit/lie ordinance approved by voters last November. Under the law, people are not allowed to sit in sidewalks unless there is a permanent bench.  Penalties can range from written and verbal warnings to 30-day jail sentences and $500 fines for repeat offenders.

Many are claiming that this law is conflicting with San Francisco's efforts to address the shortage of public open spaces. Since streets comprise 1/4 of San Francisco, sidewalks generally serve as gathering places especially in high-density neighborhoods like SOMA and Tenderloin.

It's so controversial that discussions have started about whether this sit-lie law will destroy Haight Ashbury's dating scene. Others claim that the law was implemented to target San Francisco's sanctuary policy, which has unintentionally protected repeat offenders who are also illegal immigrants from deportation.

Imposing an anti-loitering law, especially in a city like SF, is a bit draconian and impractical. What do you think?

CJC's picture

False Solutions for Homelessness in SF

This is a punitive policy which highlights the short sightedness that is often a feature of San Francisco politics. As far as I can work out the policy is designed to deter the homeless. Targeting such a disenfranchised group is pretty easy since they have virtually no influence in city politics. If the city wants to get serious about addressing problems of poverty and homelessness it needs to do more than sweep the problem under the carpet or off of the sidewalks. Hiding problems is not the same as addressing them. We do need to eliminate the problem of homelessness. This means creating affordable housing. It means setting up effective rehabilitation programs. It means improving education. It means creating options for those who lose their jobs to prevent them from falling into homelessness. The problem of homelessness is multi-faceted and so are the solutions. The people of San Francisco are too smart and too compassionate to let this sort of governing fly. Get real San Francisco.
Maria Balilo's picture

Misguided Policy - at least build more benches

This article from the New American Media examines the effects of the sit/lie laws in other cities such as LA and Seattle.

At the root of the anti-loitering ordinance is the conflict between business interests and the homeless. Seattle also implemented a similar law, but in conjunction with building additional seating areas and drop-in centers for the homeless. SF, meanwhile, eliminated shelter beds and drop-in centers last year and now wants to aggressively criminalize the poor.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137