SF Mayor's Shopping Cart War

Coalition on Homelessness, SF (coh@sfo.com)
Mon, 11 Oct 1999 18:00:51 -0800

From:  Coalition on Homelessness, SF  468 Turk Street, SF CA  94102
Contact:  Judy Appel or Mara Raider at (415) 346-3740

Mayor's Shopping Cart War Has Begun
police orders shed light on city's plans.

SAN FRANCISCO, October 11, 1999 - Beginning this week, Mayor Brown is
launching a new citywide policy directing the seizure of shopping carts
from homeless people under the presumption that the carts are stolen
property.  The Coalition received the first reports of people being
detained for pushing carts this morning, with some being brought in on
old warrants for anti-homeless citations.

The Coalition on Homelessness just received SFPD FOB General Order 99-03
and the corresponding operations order laying out the plans for
implementing this new policy.  The Coalition is available to provide
copies of these orders upon request.

Here Are The Facts:
o   Every individual with a shopping cart will be detained.
o   Despite the news reports that there will be no arrests, it will in
practice be up to the officer to determine whether an individual in
possession of a shopping cart will be admonished, cited or booked for
the following crimes:
		* Possession of Stolen Property (misdemeanor or felony);
		* Misappropriation of Lost Property (misdemeanor);
		* Possession of Property from which identifying 
numbers or marks
		have been removed, altered or obliterated (misdemeanor); or
		* Unlawful possession of shopping carts (misdemeanor).
The misdemeanors are all punishable by 6 months in jail and/or a $1,000
fine, the felony could be used as a third strike resulting in 25 years
to life.
o   Any person who fails to surrender a shopping cart will be cited or
o   A photograph will be taken of each person with a cart, and an
incident report filed for each detention.
o   Department of Public Works (DPW) and Department of Public Health
(DPH) workers will accompany officers in the field.  DPW will seize each
shopping cart and DPH will search the property in the carts for
"biohazardous materials".
o   DPW will supply the individual with two plastic bags for their
possessions.  Any possessions that can not fit in the plastic bags may
be taken and stored in a city facility or thrown away.  The orders claim
that there is storage available for people at the Pier 24 Annex, but no
such storage exists.
o   Assigned officers will be receiving overtime wages.
o   "This comprehensive operation will be a coordinated effort though
[sic] the Mayor's Office on Homelessness."

The SFPD orders fail to advise officers that there are only shelter beds
sufficient to serve 10% of San Francisco's homeless population and there
are waiting lists for most services. The telephone number for the
contact at the Department of Human Services (referred to as the
Department of Social Services in the orders) is incorrect.  The
Coalition on Homelessness has still been unable to identify what, if any
resources from DHS will be redirected to this effort, but it is clear
that if an outreach worker is assigned to work with the police they will
be taken off of their current duties.