Board runs away from sit-lie pitch 

To tackle the problem of “increasing thuggery seen on some streets,” including in the Haight, The City’s police chief wants to crack down on people loitering on streets.

Police Chief George Gascón is advocating for a sit-lie ordinance that makes it illegal to sit or lie on public sidewalks.

In an open letter, Gascón said “a well crafted ‘sit-lie’ ordinance would provide police officers with a valuable tool to deal with this problem in an effective, sustainable and smart manner.”

However, a political battle is brewing about whether The City should adopt the new law and the process for creating it.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who represents the Haight neighborhood and is experiencing political pressure about the proposal from both proponents and advocates, requested a hearing Tuesday during the Board of Supervisors meeting to “demystify” the impacts of a “sit or lie” law. The hearing is expected to take place next month before the board’s Public Safety Committee.

He said “misinformation” has been circulating, and Mirkarimi objected to the Police Department discussing the proposal in public meetings without members of the District Attorney’s or City Attorney’s offices to discuss the “legal consequences.”

“Why can’t we enforce the anti-loitering laws currently on the books?” Mirkarimi said.

The District 5 supervisor’s request sparked responses from colleagues, suggesting in so many words that the board should be careful jumping into the debate at this point.

Supervisor David Campos, a former police commissioner, said the Police Commission should vet all proposals, including the use of Tasers and a sit-lie law, because “as the policymaking body, [it] has the expertise that is needed to make sure that all of those pros and cons [are addressed] with respect to each one of these issues.”

Supervisor Bevan Dufty said he originally had concerns about Gascón, who came on board in August, but that he “has really distinguished himself in taking a fresh look at problems and challenges in San Francisco,” and he’s doing it “in a way that is thoughtful and careful and moving in a manner that seeks to find common ground.”

Gascón did not want to comment on Mirkarimi’s hearing request until he had a chance to meet with the supervisor, which he plans to do this week.

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