Pitbull.jpgThere was a time when the criminalization of sitting and lying down was only used against people in the service industry, but now, in an effort to control the street kids who terrorize Upper Haight with their dreadlocks and pitbulls, and dreadlocked pitbulls, some San Francisco lawmakers are trying to make sure that no one will ever sit or lie down on the sidewalk.

On the one hand, that’s a noble aspiration because those Haight Ashbury bumletts are mean. One time one of them called me an asshole on my way into American Apparel, as if going into American Apparel makes you an asshole, so it stung, and he knew it.

I’m all for not having a pitbull tear me to shreds while I’m buying spandex, but then I saw this article in Newsweek about rehabbed pitbulls and they were so cute and docile looking that I just didn’t even know how I felt anymore. I got so tired of thinking that I just wanted to sit down somewhere and think about the strange dichotomies of life. But I couldn’t sit down so I stood up, and it just wasn’t the same.

Right after I first moved to this city, I was on my lunch break from a temp job at Batter Blaster, and wanted to spend that hour sitting outside and reading a book in the sunshine.

Knowing what I know now I probably wouldn’t sit in a deserted alley between 6th and 7th, but I didn’t know what I know now so there I was sitting on the cement when I was punched in the head by a bum.

Wasn’t that crazy mean homeless man exactly who the sit/lie law is supposed to protect me from? But instead it was almost like he was on citizen’s patrol, because he enforced the sit/lie law on me.

So sitting, which is something I like, got confused with being punched which is something I don’t like, and now I feel jumpy whenever I even look at the sidewalk or a fist. I guess you could say I have PTSD from enforcement of the sit/lie law. I would like for someone to pay for my therapy, but my therapist is so afraid of the sit/lie law that she won’t even let me sit anymore during our sessions.

Her fear is kind of justified because whenever my butt touches a hard surface I kind of turn into a mean Haight Ashbury street child and my hair gets dreaded and my jacket gets covered in dirt and I start seeing people for the assholes that they are.

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  • the default attorney

    I believe the service industry rule should be adopted by the city. If you have time to lean, you have time to clean. That’s what I always heard. Just hand them all brooms and squeegees. If they want money for pot they should have to work for it like everybody else.

  • wordygirl

    I’m assuming, like every other law ever instituted in San Francisco or the world over for that matter, that the sit/lie law would only be enforced on those that they made the law for. I can’t imagine me and my two kids sitting on the sidewalk outside Mitchell’s and getting a phat fine for eating ice cream while sitting on the sidewalk.

    But you’re right – I still don’t know if I am behind this law or not. Why don’t we just outlaw pitbulls and dreadlocks?

  • Eve Batey

    Hey, wordygirl, that enforcement issue is, I think, why some are objecting to the law. Public defender Jeff Adachi wrote a letter to the Chron that they published over the weekend, where he said:

    The sit/lie ordinance violates the basic maxim of laws, “et de similibus idem est judicium”: “people who are guilty of the same conduct must receive the same judgment.”

    By simply outlawing the act of sitting on the sidewalk, the ordinance leaves to the police the right to decide who is and who is not a lawbreaker.

    I’m retaining journalistic objectivity on this one, but since you seem to have some thoughts about the law, I thought you might find Adachi’s perspective interesting!

  • modelenoir

    “Wasn’t that crazy mean homeless man exactly who the sit/lie law is supposed to protect me from? But instead it was almost like he was on citizen’s patrol, because he enforced the sit/lie law on me. ”

    This is a pretty good reason this law is so sketchy as written. In the Police Commission hearing, it was noted that: Punching? Law against that. Spitting? Law. Harassing? Law. Loitering? Law. The PD’s complaint is that they cannot act on their own, someone must be reported before the police can get involved.

    I think the PD’s reasoning is that if they could have Sit/Lie’d that guy before he punched you, you wouldn’t need all this therapy… and they most likely would have walked right by yo’ sittin’ ass on the way to give him the citation.

    This law just seems so poorly thought-out that I’m not sure it could ever pass, but who knows. The PD did not make a very good case at the hearing and Alan Schlosser from the ACLU pretty much picked it apart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9IEiBJRjSQ&feature=player_embedded.

  • Erik

    I’m sure we can count on the police to not abuse their discretionary power in deciding which people to arrest for sitting on the sidewalk and which not to arrest for sitting on the sidewalk. What could possibly go wrong?

  • DT

    The PC carpetbaggers have taken over City Hall and their experiment has failed.

    There were perfectly good and working laws on the books until all this nannying came about. The old panhandling law was one sentence long, the new one is a page and a half. Now the police have to play “Mother May I” with every bum and deviant before they can simply ask them to move along. I have no idea how many hundreds of hours of training the SFPD has to undergo in order to cope with the gnawing and ripping away of common sense and basic policing. Having the Police Commission and DA on the side of the criminals doesn’t help matters either. I miss the old Greyhound treatment.

  • TK

    Hey, how do they get the batter into those spray cans?