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San Francisco city attorney cracking down on crack pipes

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City Attorney Dennis Herrera on Thursday will unveil a lawsuit against several Excelsior District tobacco shops accused of selling pipes used to smoke crack cocaine.

The exact details of the civil suit were not available Wednesday, but Herrera spokesman Jack Song said the office would be seeking unspecified penalties for code violations against at least five local shops.

District 11 Supervisor John Avalos said he supported the action and hoped to bring “a better mix of businesses” to the area.

“I have heard off and on from residents complaining about the smoke shops, how many we have in our district,” Avalos said.

Avalos said the district’s main business thoroughfares along Mission Street and Geneva Avenue could use more book shops, hardware stores or print shops.

“We don’t really have a big crack problem,” Avalos said. He said the district does have issues with marijuana sales and the “occasional meth house.”

Crack pipes are distinguished from those used for smoking marijuana, which are considered legal because they can also be used for tobacco.

“Crack pipes are usually thinner and they have a copper filter,” Song said. “And it’s very obvious, it’s very different from glass pipes used by marijuana users.”

The lawsuit comes following previous efforts to control the proliferation of smoke shops in San Francisco.

In 2009 The City approved legislation preventing new smoke shops from opening in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. In 2010 it passed a law requiring special permitting to open new smoke shops on Polk Street.

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