[Hpn] San Francisco, CA - Block street sweepers, get ticket -- maybe? - San Francisco Chronicle - September 18, 2002

H. C. Covington H. C. Covington" <hccjr@bellsouth.net
Wed, 18 Sep 2002 23:26:10 -0500


Block street sweepers, get ticket -- maybe
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By Rachel Gordon - San Francisco Chronicle - September 18, 2002

San Francisco Supervisor Gavin Newsom, who is trying to restrict
panhandling and reduce welfare grants for the homeless, now wants
to let cops ticket people who refuse to budge for workers
cleaning the streets and sidewalks.

Newsom's critics say the Marina area supervisor who has his eye
on the mayor's office is just looking for another way to build a
political platform that would drive the homeless out of San
Francisco.

Nonsense, Newsom said. "It's not intended to be anti-homeless."
Instead, the proposed law is meant to help make sure San
Francisco's grimy streets get cleaned, he said.

"All we're asking is for people to move for a few moments while
we clean the area," Newsom said. "But there are some people who
say, 'Screw you. We're not moving.' That's the problem we're
trying to address."

He asked the city attorney on Tuesday to turn his proposal into
legislation.

The Board of Supervisors, which has been cool to Newsom's
suggestions on such issues in the past, must pass the proposed
ordinance and forward it for Mayor Willie Brown's signature
before it could become law.

Deputy Police Chief Greg Suhr, who has been focusing on cleaning
up the mid- Market Street area, likes Newsom's idea. While most
people move when the street sweeper comes through, some dig in
and become belligerent, he said.

"Rather than get into a pissing match, this would give the officer
an opportunity to tell people they'll get a citation if they don't move,
" Suhr said. "We don't anticipate we'll give any tickets, but this
would be another tool."

There is already a 21-year-old law on the books that prohibits
people from interfering with the work of city employees in the
parks and fines them $76 if they are cited. Newsom's proposal
would mirror the park law, but move the reach to other public
rights-of-way.

Police officers already can cite people for obstructing a sidewalk
or trespassing in a doorway, and they have issued 13,038 tickets
for those infractions since 1998, according to statistics compiled
by the Coalition on Homelessness.

Jennifer Friedenbach of the coalition described Newsom's new
proposal as another mean-spirited attack. "It's part of his
homeless agenda to push people out of town," she said.

She said most people who are sitting on the sidewalk when the
street sweeper comes through or when the sidewalks are about to
be hosed down will move if they're asked.

Mohammed Nuru, operations director of the Department of Public
Works who serves as the city's clean streets czar, said that's
also been his experience.

"Normally when you ask people to move, they'll move," Nuru said.


E-mail Rachel Gordon at rgordon@sfchronicle.com.
2002 San Francisco Chronicle.   Page A - 17
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