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Public Works, not police, to enforce proposed bike chop shop crackdown

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A man works on a bicycle near Ninth and Brannan streets in San Francisco’s South of Market District Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

A push to ban bicycle chop shops in San Francisco has become contentious, but taking police out of the equation may ensure its passage.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy is not giving up on his proposal to have The City do more to curb the chop shops spotted around San Francisco, even though he faced a strong backlash for what was blasted as an anti-homeless measure.

Amendments made Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors, however, may win over some votes.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that Public Works, not the police, should take the lead on this issue,” Sheehy said. “Over the last week, I’ve worked on amendments to address many community concerns.”

SEE RELATED: Bike, homeless groups oppose bill cracking down on SF’s bicycle ‘chop shops’

The proposal went before the board last week for a vote but was continued over concerns expressed by the San Francisco Homeless Coalition, the Bicycle Coalition and the ACLU of Northern California.

Sheehy amended his proposal Tuesday to have Public Works “implement the removal” of bicycle chop shops, not police officers as previously proposed.

No person “shall assemble, disassemble, sell, offer to sell, distribute, offer to distribute, or store” on sidewalks or public rights of way five or more bicycles, a bicycle frame with the gear cables or brake cables cut, or three or more bicycles with missing parts or five or more bicycle parts, according to the legislation.

Public Works employees would issue a written notice of violation to the person whose bicycle or bike parts were confiscated.

Police could be called for assistance “if the person to whom the notice is issued does not allow Public Works to remove and seize the items,” according to the amended proposal.

Those who receive the notice could appeal within 30 days to Public Works and would undergo a hearing. The bicycles or bike parts confiscated would be stored for 30 days for their rightful owner to claim with “supporting evidence for their claim of ownership (including, but not limited to, video or photographic evidence, a bill of sale, the correct serial number).”

If there are multiple reports of ownership or possible false claims Public Works could request the police to investigate the matter.

Public Works would destroy or donate unclaimed bicycles or bike parts after 60 days.

Supervisor Jane Kim signaled she may be supportive of the legislation with the amendments. “It is very important to me that we do not criminalize poverty and that we do not criminalize homelessness,” Kim said. “Sidewalk clutter is very much an issue and should be appropriately dealt [with] by the Department of Public Works. I appreciate the changes.”

The board will not vote on Sheehy’s proposal until at least September, when the board returns from the summer legislative recess. The full board’s last meeting before the summer recess was Tuesday.

Sheehy’s amended proposal will first undergo a hearing before the board’s Land Use and Transportation Committee at a date not yet scheduled.

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