Haight at center of sit-lie debate 

The highest concentration of emergency medical responses for alcohol abuse is centered in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood where there is increasing degradation in the public’s feelings of safety at night, according to a controller’s memo released this week.

The memo, sent to police Chief George Gascón, adds fuel to the fire over the debate of an ordinance that would make it illegal to sit or lie on city sidewalks. The Haight has been ground zero for the argument where residents have spoken out about aggressive behavior.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier have already introduced a so-called “sit-lie” ordinance to the Board of Supervisors. While the proposed ordinance appears to be bound for failure at the board, a measure will most likely end up on the November ballot.

Among residents surveyed, between 2007 and 2009 there was a 12 percent decrease in feelings of safety at night in the Park Police District, where the Haight is located, while the rest of The City only decreased slightly, according to the report. The biannual Controller’s Office report uses data from randomly selected San Francisco residents.

The controller also found that between July 2008 and December 2008, 78 patients out of 3,093 citywide were picked up in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood. Nine out of 10 of that relatively small group were sent to sobering centers for treatment.

Homeless advocates, who oppose the legislation, are taking the controller’s report with a grain of salt.

“The data is pretty clearly unreliable,” said Bob Offer-Westort with the Coalition on Homelessness. “We have no doubt about the controller’s ability to crunch numbers, but we do have a problem with the sources of the data and its reliability.”


Troubled district

Police service calls around Haight Street in 2008:

Suspicious person: 3,978
Suspicious homeless person: 1,347
Location checks: 3,346
Muni calls: 1,236
Traffic stops: 1,227
Parking violations: 795
Noise complaints: 579
Citizen interviews: 401
Fight or dispute: 384
Driveway violations: 258

Source: SFPD via Controller’s Office


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Brent Begin

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