Foot patrol bid under fire

A coalition is attempting to derail the controversial November ballot measure that would add more police foot patrols citywide.

The Coalition for Civil Sidewalks — proponents of a sit-lie ordinance that’s also on the ballot — sent a letter to Elections Department Director John Arntz asking that he pull Proposition M from the ballot. The measure would require the captains of all 10 police stations to work with merchants and community members to establish specific foot beats.

The coalition claims the Board of Supervisors violated the San Francisco elections code when it added a “poison pill” to the measure, rushing to get it on the Nov. 2 ballot.

The “poison pill” the group is referring to is a provision that if the foot beat legislation receives more votes than Mayor Gavin Newsom’s ordinance to ban sitting and lying on city sidewalks, the sit-lie ordinance — known as Measure L — will be nullified.

In the letter, the coalition claims that on July 27, the board “ignored” advice from the City Attorney’s Office and voted to place Proposition M on the ballot with the new provision. According to the coalition, this move violated the elections code by not allowing for public review of the amended measure.

Arntz responded Tuesday saying he has only glanced at the letter, making no comment at this point.

“People take positions all the time in election matters; that doesn’t meant it’s the entire story,” Arntz said. “I have to talk to the City Attorney’s Office and get a sense of it and go from there. Right now, I have no plan for or against what’s in the letter.”

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who sponsored the legislation, did not return phone calls Tuesday.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has been one of the sharpest critics of mandated foot patrols, said the coalition is raising a good point: Is this amendment legal?

“I think it’s a legitimate question,” Newsom said. “It’s about as crystal clear as it gets — what the Board of Supervisors did was outrageous, callous, transparent and so political.”

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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