ALERT: Anti-Loitering Law pushed by San Francisco Mayor Brown FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 17 Apr 1999 09:48:46 -0700 (PDT)


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Can anyone from San Francisco keep us updated on Mayor Brown's
anit-loitering proposal and local people's responses?

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1999/04/16/MN7
483.DTL
FWD  San Francisco Examiner - April 16, 1999

     S.F. MAYOR WANTS TO DRAW THE LINE ON MEDIAN LOITERING

     Fines for standing on islands, ramps would start at $100

     Edward Epstein, Chronicle Staff Writer


Saying he wants to promote pedestrian and driver safety
and not chase off panhandlers, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown
proposed legislation yesterday that goes after beggars anyway by
barring them from doing business in the street or median strip.

Civil libertarians immediately attacked Brown's plan as a thinly
veiled attack on those who stand on traffic islands in locations such
as along Van Ness Avenue, or who step off the curb on ramps near the
Bay Bridge approach.

The mayor's measure would make it illegal to ``stand, remain, sit or
lie'' on streets, curbs or median strips in San Francisco.

``This ordinance will prohibit the conducting of any kind of
business along the median strips or in our streets,'' Brown said.
``We have had an alarming increase in pedestrian fatalities in the
last year, and I simply will not tolerate activities that contribute
to these avoidable deaths.''

Brown announced the legislation two days after he and Police Chief
Fred Lau outlined a street-safety plan that includes more
ticket-writing by more police, more seizures of cars driven by
unlicensed motorists and stepped-up educational efforts.

His proposed ordinance, which will be formally introduced to the
Board of Supervisors on Monday, specifies that people who linger in a
median strip, crosswalk, road or curbside for more than five minutes
could be fined $100. Fines would jump to $200 and $250 for a second
and third violation within each calendar year.

The proposal was drafted by City Attorney Louise Renne's staff at
the mayor's request.

Brown said the rising toll of pedestrian deaths in the city, which
he said hit 32 in fiscal 1997-98, according to police data, was what
inspired his proposal. Two-thirds of those fatalities occurred at
intersections, he said. Drivers were at fault in a majority of the
deaths.

Another report, from the county medical examiner, said 43
pedestrians were killed in 1997-98, up 87 percent from the previous
fiscal year. The examiner's report included cases in which police
were not called.

``Those numbers are a strong indication that there is a serious need
for this legislation,'' Brown said in a statement.

Brown said that some beggars are creating a traffic hazard.

``People who wander in the streets holding up signs are creating a
real hazard, and endangering themselves,'' the mayor said.
``Pedestrian safety must be at the top of our list.''

Men standing on two freeway ramps South of Market yesterday evening
emphatically disagreed with Brown's idea.

``I think it's harassment,'' one mumbled, standing at a stoplight
with a half-legible sign that began, ``Help.''

Another man said he has never been hurt in more than eight years of
panhandling motorists in the city.

``Cars ain't going nowhere fast. How dangerous could that be?'' said
the 34-year-old unemployed laborer, pausing from a dinner of Italian
pasta he had just received from a commuter.

The dangerous part, he said, is when `'smart asses'' swerve
illegally toward the curb where he stands. The man, who declined to
give his name, said he already gets tickets for standing on a freeway
ramp.

``Homelessness is not illegal,'' he said. ``Even if the mayor tries
to make it.''

Police could not be reached late yesterday to say whether any of the
recent pedestrian deaths involved panhandlers.

END FORWARD

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