Panhandler Ban Outside Businesses Urged By San Francisco

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 2 Jun 1999 00:19:44 -0700 (PDT)


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http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/1999/05/25/MN6028
9.DTL&type=printable
FWD  San Francisco Chronicle - May 25, 1999

     TOUGHER PANHANDLER LAW URGED

     S.F. supervisor wants ban in front of businesses

     By Edward Epstein, Chronicle Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO [USA]:  Continuing his dogged efforts to crack down on
panhandlers, San Francisco Supervisor Amos Brown proposed yesterday
that the city ban begging directly outside stores and other
businesses.

Brown was inspired by an article in yesterday's Chronicle about
similar legislation pending in Antioch. He asked City Attorney Louise
Renne's staff to draft an ordinance that would prohibit aggressive
panhandling outside businesses.

The supervisor has carried several pieces of legislation
concentrating on panhandlers, loiterers and the homeless. His most
recent moves have included stricter controls over conduct in Civic
Center and Hallidie plazas and an attempt to get grocers to prevent
their shopping carts from being stolen.

Homeless advocates say Brown, whose efforts have generally had the
support of Mayor Willie Brown, is trying to criminalize poverty and
homelessness. But he said again yesterday that his campaign is about
mutual respect.

``I just left Accra, Ghana,'' he said at yesterday's board meeting.
``There were poor people and people who did beg. . . . But I didn't see
anyone insulted by aggressive panhandlers.'' He was in Ghana for the
fifth annual African American Summit.

``It's high time we stop indulging people who are taking advantage
of the perceived problem of homelessness,'' the supervisor said.
``Our focus is not to demonize or criminalize anyone. It's just a
matter of simple respect.''

Brown, who is pastor of the Third Baptist Church in the Western
Addition, also proposed that the San Francisco Housing Authority's
crackdown against loitering related to drug dealing be extended to
nonprofit and church-related housing developments in the city.

He said his church's senior housing development, the Rev. F.D.
Haynes Gardens, has been plagued by loiterers involved in the drug
trade.

``Once there is a fair policy of not tolerating drug trafficking and
not tolerating loitering, things change for the better,'' he said.

The proposal in Antioch that inspired Brown could mean jail time and
fines of as much as $1,000 for people who ignore warnings to stay way
from storefronts. The City Council is scheduled to consider the idea
today.

Walnut Creek has a similar law, passed in 1994, and Berkeley, Santa
Cruz and Palo Alto have tried anti-loitering laws of varying kinds.

In other action, the supervisors approved new interim housing,
plumbing, mechanical, electrical, fire and building codes, after
listening to the objections of neighborhood activists from across the
city.

The new codes, totaling some 2,000 pages, were only recently
presented to the board by the Building Inspection Commission. The
commission said it had engaged in a two-year public process in
preparing the overhauls.

It also said that if the supervisors do not approve the new codes by
July 1, less-strict state codes will take effect in the city.

But the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods objected to the
commission's plans.

``These codes affect every citizen in San Francisco and they will
affect the cost of living by impacting the availability of housing,''
coalition president Joan Girardot said.

The supervisors' Housing and Social Policy Committee had recommended
last week that the codes be passed, with a provision that the
supervisors would hold a hearing in three months to see if changes
were needed. The board would then reaffirm the codes within six
months.

But lobbying by the coalition got the full board to make the new
codes interim, good for only six months. Within that time the board
will hold several hearings and make changes.

If the work cannot be accomplished within six months, the board
could extend the interim measures until agreement on new, permanent
codes can be reached.

END FORWARD

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