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Police Official: Sit/Lie Mostly Ineffective in Haight

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James Irwin for The Bay Citizen
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James Irwin for The Bay Citizen

San Francisco's controversial sit/lie ordinance has been mostly ineffective in preventing transients from loitering in the city's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, a police lieutenant said at a department meeting Wednesday.

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 — many in the Haight-Ashbury — who complained that people walking by their shops were getting harassed by aggressive street youth.

Homeless advocates had argued that the law represents a loss of civil liberties and an attack on all homeless people.

After months of training, officers began enforcing the law in March, but at a bimonthly CompStat meeting involving some of the police department's top brass Wednesday, police Lt. Belinda Kerr from the Park Station acknowledged that the law has not done much to change behavior in the area.

There has been "a prolific amount of arrests, citations and warnings ... but I haven't seen that it's done a whole lot," Kerr said.

She said the transients will often get up when they see officers drive by in their patrol cars, but "unfortunately are getting up and going around the block and then sitting down again."

Kerr said the city is preparing for the summer months when "we get a big push of transients" by working with the district attorney's office to develop stay-away orders for multiple offenders that would prevent them from being in the area.

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