sit-lie11.jpgSan Francisco police quietly began enforcing the city’s new sit-lie ordinance last week, although no citations have been issued yet, a police spokesman said today.

The ordinance, approved as Proposition L by 54 percent of voters in November, makes it illegal to sit or lie on public sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., with some exceptions.
The ballot measure was pushed by local business owners, particularly in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, who complained that people walking past their shops were getting harassed by aggressive street youth.

A first citation brings a fine of at least $50 or community service, while subsequent citations could bring up to a $500 fine and up to 10 days in county jail.

Although the law became effective in December, police did not officially begin enforcing it until last week after they finished training officers and developed a system to warn people before issuing the citations, police Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.

Officers will hand out written warning cards, which include the city’s 311 information number and a list of services it provides, and also have the option of just giving a verbal warning to people, he said.

Dangerfield said he was not aware of any citations being issued as of today.

“The whole thing is compliance, not citation,” Dangerfield said.

While employees at many businesses on Haight Street said they had not noticed any difference in the week since police began enforcing the ordinance, one did notice a small change.

Dan Santini, a regional manager who works at the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop at the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets, said he saw a police patrol car drive by a group of people sitting on the street this morning.

“I saw the police officer drive by, and I saw them quickly stand up,” Santini said. “It almost seemed like they reacted toward the anticipation of being asked to move on.”

He said, “before (the enforcement), I never even saw people showing a sign of intimidation.”

However, the move has not done much to change the number of youth on the street.
“There’s still a lot of people out here,” he said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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