A police lieutenant working in the Haight-Ashbury area said The City’s new sit-lie law has been ineffective, though the claim was disputed by a neighborhood group.
Speaking at the Police Department’s public CompStat meeting, Park station Lt. Belinda Kerr said that despite “a prolific amount” of citations and warnings, “I haven’t seen that it’s done a whole lot.” In addition, she said, police have been seeking stay-away orders for multiple offenders.
Police began enforcing the new law banning sitting or lying on public sidewalks in March, after voters approved the legislation in November. Merchants and residents in the Haight Street corridor had expressed concern about panhandling and aggressive behavior by some youths who lingered outside neighborhood shops.
Kerr said when loiterers see cops coming, they get up and leave, go around the block and sit down again.
With an influx of transients coming into The City in the summer, “It’s just going to get worse and worse,” she said.
Kerr’s claim was immediately rejected by Ted Loewenberg, the president of the Haight Ashbury Improvement Association.
“It’s improved,” Loewenberg said. “There are not people out there every hour of the day and night, sitting on corners and sidewalks, panhandling and harassing people walking by. It is significantly better now than before this law was passed.”
According to Police Department Lt. Troy Dangerfield, there were 67 sit-lie citations citywide through May 13.
Dangerfield stressed that though officers view the sit-lie law as “another tool” in community policing, it was voters who approved it.
“We’re not measuring the success or failure by how many citations or advisements that we give,” Dangerfield said, but “by how we can help the merchants and citizens deal with their problems. It’s a work in progress.”
Loewenberg was hopeful, estimating that there remains “at best” only 10 percent of the loiterers that had been on Haight Street last year.