City Hall Watch: SF mayor's sit-lie law faces setback 

A proposal to make sitting or lying on city sidewalks illegal was defeated by a wide margin Tuesday — but Mayor Gavin Newsom plans to give voters the final say in November.

The growing unrest of merchants and residents who complain about intimidating and disruptive behavior on San Francisco sidewalks led Mayor Gavin Newsom, with the support of police Chief George Gascón, to propose making it illegal to sit or lie on sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Supporters say it’s the answer they’ve long been waiting for. Opponents say it’s an unnecessary law — it would result in unfair treatment of the homeless and day laborers, among others — and current laws are adequate, if only the police enforce them, such as through more foot patrols.

“The Police Department needs to do its job and enforce the laws that are already on the books,” Supervisor David Campos said.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty said supporters of the law “just want to change things. They want to see an improvement. But honestly, I don’t believe that this is the San Francisco way.” He instead said the answer was improving the court system.

The Board of Supervisors voted 8-3 on Tuesday to reject the legislation. Supervisors Carmen Chu, Michela Alioto-Pier and Sean Elsbernd supported it.

“Residents and merchants and police are frustrated with the status quo. Existing laws do not provide a proactive tool for the San Francisco Police Department,” Alioto-Pier said.
Newsom’s spokesman Tony Winnicker said the voters will have the final say.

“This is about unacceptable behavior on the sidewalks,” Winnicker said. “We need to deal with it. The board has failed to. So the mayor will give the voters the opportunity to.”

In other action

In a 9-2 vote, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s proposed legislation that would require point-of-sale disclosure of radiation levels in cell phones was continued to Tuesday.

In an 11-0 vote, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s reappointment of Joseph Marshall to the Police Commission was approved.

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier introduced legislation that would enact Laura’s Law, a state program that allows the court to order the mentally ill who are refusing voluntary treatment to be forced to receive medicine.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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