A recent crackdown on Haight Street has netted more than 100 citations, and the fur is starting to fly.
The Haight neighborhood has been ground zero for advocates of the proposed sit-lie ordinance to speak out against the aggressive behavior of street-dwellers sitting on sidewalks asking for change and often accompanied by dogs on or off leashes.
Neighborhood groups are convinced that Mayor Gavin Newsom’s sit-lie ordinance that would outlaw sitting or lying on footpaths between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., especially when applied to dog owners, is what the area needs.
“The people that own the dogs have much more attitude; they feel more entitled,” said Lena Emmery, president of the Cole Valley Improvement Association. “I remember Haight Street in 1965; it was a free-for-all. Some of those people are still there. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now.”
Emmery said store owners also have it rough because it makes the historic tourist hub “look pathetic. Sometimes I cross the street to avoid these people.”
The owner of the iconic Positively Haight Street vintage clothing store — bedazzled with psychedelic tie-dye and Grateful Dead memorabilia — said he knew what he was getting into when he opened his place 18 years ago.
“Look, you open up a store in the Haight because it is what it is,” said co-owner Rick Braum. “If things are going on when they shouldn’t be, call the police.”
Because of complaints from neighbors, Officer John Denny and Sgt. Bill Herndon began monitoring the stretch of Haight Street extending from Masonic Avenue to Stanyan Street in December. They now patrol it in uniform nearly every day.
In the six weeks since the crackdown began, the officers issued more than 150 tickets to the furry friends of both park-sleepers and strolling urban professionals.
But instead of encountering aggressive animals, the officers discovered the more-common issue was unlicensed and off-leash dogs.
“So we’re up there in plain clothes — if you’re in uniform they’re not going to act natural — but it was pretty obvious these were just going to be off-leash and license citations,” said Denny, who has helped run The City’s vicious and dangerous dog unit for more than a decade.
About 99 percent of the citations were for lacking a license and occasionally a leash, he said.
Since the officers started their regular patrols, some things have changed on the stretch of Haight Street.
“We have not found any menacing dogs,” Denny said. “They’re still sitting there on the sidewalks with their dogs, but now they have licenses.”
A person who uses a pit bull to scare people into giving them something can be charged with armed robbery, and the victim should call 911. However, no reports of that nature have been filed from activity on Haight Street since Dec. 16.
Other dog violations
No leash: $32
Unregistered: $102, if the dog isn’t licensed within five days of issuance of the citation
Licensing for one year:
Source: SFPD vicious and dangerous animals unit