New penalties proposal targets violence on Muni 

Increasing penalties for carrying concealed weapons and harassing people on Muni or near transit shelters is the latest effort to make the public transportation system safer.

Tackling crime on Muni became a priority of elected officials and the Police Department with recent stabbings, an attack on a woman thrown in front of a T-Third Street train and YouTube videos of fights aboard buses.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Carmen Chu introduced legislation that would increase the punishment one could face if caught loitering while carrying a concealed weapon or what’s known as “aggressive pursuit,” defined as “the willful, malicious or repeated following or harassment of another person.” Fines would increase from $500 to $1,000 — the maximum permitted under state law — for such crimes on Muni vehicles, platforms or within 25 feet of a bus zone. Also, offenders could face jail time of up to six months.

“This is really to be able to send a very strong message to our communities that public safety on Muni is vitally important,” Chu said.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and supervisors Eric Mar, Sophie Maxwell and Bevan Dufty. District Attorney Kamala Harris praised the proposal.

“We have seen a number of incidences on Muni around the platforms and on the vehicles,” Chu said. “Safety on Muni should be a top priority and something we do pay attention to.”

In April, The Examiner reported that there were 304 crimes recorded on Muni citywide between January and March 25, including 12 assaults, 88 larcenies, 61 robberies and 22 acts of graffiti or other vandalism.

A city controller’s report said 42 percent of Muni passengers felt safe or very safe riding Muni in 2009.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, pays the Police Department millions of dollars annually for security services. In April, the Police Department said it has improved deployment of personnel by relying on a database to determine which lines and stations are most in need of security and during what times.

In other action

In an 11-0 vote, a 20-year lease with Berkeley-based Another Planet Entertainment for the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was approved. It includes two five-year options and the promoter will spend $10 million to upgrade the Civic Center venue.

In an 11-0 vote, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu’s reappointments of Kathrin Moore and Hisashi Sugaya to the Planning Commission were approved for terms ending July 1, 2014.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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