San Francisco Passes Law Criminalizing Sitting or Lying on Public Streets

Recently, we have following laws targeting homeless persons — laws that could apply to a wide range of conduct but enforced only against this one group. San Francisco has now joined this group with a law barring people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. This is why the two men on the San Francisco seal are shown standing. There were three but one made the mistake of sitting down.

Obviously, many people sit or lie on public sidewalks, but officials insist that police will only enforce the law against the homeless — a problematic claim allowing arbitrary enforcement.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Police Chief George Gascon pushed for the law over the objections of civil libertarians. We have also recently seen other normally liberal city councils rejecting civil libertarian objections to pass laws curtailing free speech.

I was just in Haight-Ashbury last month and I can only imagine how the police will enforce this law. It is a dangerous practice to give police the power to pick and choose between citizens to arrest for common conduct.

Yet, that appears precisely what residents want. Kathleen Shanahan explains “There’s a difference between an individual that’s contributing to the society and being part of the cultural fabric of a neighborhood, versus an individual that is sitting on the street with their very scary dog, to the point that I am scared to walk down the Haight with my family.” Note to self, leave scary dog at home next time in San Fran. You should also leave your Happy Meal in the car.

Source: Bay Citizen

Jonathan Turley

68 thoughts on “San Francisco Passes Law Criminalizing Sitting or Lying on Public Streets”

  1. Where’s a man like Harry C. when you need one…. or a Jack Reacher.

    (Sorry to interrupt. 🙂 Carry on…)

  2. Buddha,

    Oh sure, use an example of someone who actually existed.

    On a mildly related note: Just drank a bottle of 2003 SamiChlaus, Then went out and bought a 2010 to age for three years.

  3. Gyges,

    Buddha wasn’t wild about people who earned their fortune in dishonest or exploitative ways or those whose coveting and venal behavior caused suffering in others, but taught that properly cultivated wealth that people used to help others was a good thing as poverty and its intrinsic suffering was bad for not just the poor but for us all. “If you have little, give little; if you own a middling amount, give middling amount; if you have much, give much. It is not fitting not to give at all. Kosiya, I say to you, share your wealth, use it. Tread the path of the Noble Ones. One who eats alone eats unhappily”.

    Kinda like Jesus with a conditional out for good behavior.

  4. Eddie,

    You would have known what I meant because that’s how you would have phrased it. If you had said, “I don’t like Pelosi, because she’s too much like your mother-in-law” I would have known that you you didn’t like her because she doesn’t make pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Fortunately, neither of us is talking to themselves.

    Since I’ve never had a conversation with you, and have no idea how you feel about economic theory, and by your own admission you find some controls necessary and others too binding, how am I supposed to know which particular controls you found unnecessary? If you’re offended by having someone question you about your beliefs, there’s a very simply remedy. Don’t answer them.

    So I ask, what specific economic policy that Nancy Pelosi advocates do you disagree with?

    By the way, off hand the only person I can think of who wasn’t o.k. with rich people was Jesus.

  5. Gyges:

    No I dont like Pelosi, I dont like her economics and I dont think the ban on happy meal advertising is a good idea nor the law against sleeping in parks.

    What do you think I mean by “I dont like her economics”? Since we know she is rich I will say I am ok with rich people, they give the rest of us a job. Now that leaves 2 options, you pick.

    It shouldnt be to hard now. But then it wasnt too hard a few posts ago either.

    Are you bored or are you serious? I hope it’s boredom.

    If you told me you didnt like Reagan and his lack of control, I would know exactly what you meant. I wouldnt have to ask a bunch of questions and I would know you didnt care for supply side economics and deregulation.

  6. Eddie,

    Well let’s put the question up ““Please explain what specifically are you talking about with The Speaker’s Agenda, and how does it relate to banning sleeping in parks?””

    Now you’re answer

    I don’t like her position on economics. I think it shows the she believes in control. This is comparable to the attitude shown in the laws passed in San Fransisco recently because in parks and happy meals.

    Well two of the three sentences make sense. So that’s a start.
    Let’s see how it relates to the question.

    “Economics” isn’t really all that specific. It’s sort of like saying “I don’t agree with Stephen Hawking on Physics.

    Now I’m going to assume you mean that you meant something like “This is comparable to the attitude shown in the laws passed in San Fransisco recently because in shows Pelosi and the government of San Fransisco believe in exerting control.”

    Which is fair enough, except it relates to the vast majority of laws in the US and the people who made them. You would have been just as correct to say “Because it shows that Pelosi and the government of San Fransisco wrote the laws in English.”

    I guess I’m just a little frustrated because at this point, I’ve reached the conclusion that: you’re either being intentionally vague; you consistently missed reading the word “specific;” or I’ve wasted my time with someone who doesn’t know much about this issue other than he dislikes this law and Speaker Pelosi and they both involve San Fransisco.

  7. Gyges:

    economics; in control; sleeping in parks and happy meals

    Hope that helps.

  8. Eddie,

    Once more, with feeling, “Please explain what specifically are you talking about with The Speaker’s Agenda, and how does it relate to banning sleeping in parks?”

    You’re bobbing and weaving and nobody’s throwing punches. Here, let get you started:

    I don’t like her position on ______. I think it shows the she believes ________. This is comparable to the attitude shown in the laws passed in San Fransisco recently because ______.

    Just fill in the blanks.

  9. Gyges:

    In my opinion Mrs. Pelosi is about control. The people in San Francisco are about control. It seems to me that more people who identify with the left are about control. Although there are people on the right who are also about control.

    If this had been about Dover, Delaware I would say what do you expect from them, they gave us Christine O’Donnell. The issue for me is control, not left or right.

    I hope that clears that up.

    Now some forms of control are OK, so don’t go bustin my chops (sorry about the dead metaphor, I like old movies) about not wanting any control. We do need some to have an orderly, civilized society. But it seems the more control, the less civilized the society. Obviously just an opinion based on observation.

  10. Eddie,

    How’s this, I’ll take you at your word that you weren’t trolling. I even apologize for saying you were. All I ask for in return is that you actually read what I’m writing and respond.

    I agree on the park issue, see my first comment on this post. I think this is a bad law. I’m asking, and honestly want to know, what is the connection you refer to when you say “There actually is a connection with the lunacy in San Francisco and what Pelosi has pushed in DC?”

    So, let’s try again (now apostrophe goodness):

    “Please explain what specifically are you talking about with The Speaker’s Agenda, and how does it relate to banning sleeping in parks?”

    Bonus points if you don’t use a dead metaphor. That is, no phrase that you’ve heard and used so many times you don’t actually think about what it means.

  11. Gyges:

    A park is a public place, if you pay taxes you have paid for the right to sleep in a park. I will even go so far as to say that I give my proxy to sleep in a park to people who haven’t paid their taxes.

    If they are causing no trouble what is the problem?

    Control is different, it used by many to make other peoples lives difficult-no smoking, no drinking, no sex, no fatty foods, no fast cars, keep the thermostat under 70 degrees in the winter and over 75 in the summer.

    This isn’t a liberal or conservative issue, its a nanny state issue. Sorry to disappoint.

    Paternalism is the problem, personally I think all politicians should be arrested for impersonating people who care about our welfare.

    Are you a knee jerker? Someone says boo and you think oh he must be trolling for liberals?

    I don’t care for Pelosi nor for Christine O’Donnell. If I want to polish the brass I don’t some politician telling me I cant. Simple as that.

    Now if that makes me a troll baiting liberals, then guilty as charged.

  12. Eddie,

    Nope, that your statement was trolling it has nothing to do with if I agree with you. A Troll is someone who seeks to disrupt normal conversation on a website. If you meant to do anything but piss of them danged liberals with that one liner, you need to work on your conversational skills.

    Now, you’re not trolling, because you’re explaining your view points, and trying to have a conversation.

    So here’s your chance, please explain what specifically are you talking about with The Speakers Agenda, and how does it relate to banning sleeping in parks?

  13. Gyges:

    and I was making fun of your statement making fun of mine.

    However there is more truth in my statement than in yours. There actually is a connection with the lunacy in San Francisco and what Pelosi has pushed in DC.

    They stem from the same ideology.

    As P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster puts it “the psychology of the individual Jeeves”.

    “Few of them were to be trusted within reach of a trowel and a pile of bricks.” I doubt he was speaking of politicians but it is apt.

    So back to trolling. I see how it works, I make a statement with which you disagree, although many people think Pelosi is a power mad witch. Because I disagree with your world view I am a troll. Is that about right?

  14. MK:

    it’s always the cops “fault” when in reality the politicians are pulling the strings to line their own pockets.


    illegal stop and frisks – They reveal that precinct bosses threaten street cops if they don’t make their quotas of arrests and stop-and-frisks, but also tell them not to take certain robbery reports in order to manipulate crime statistics. The tapes also refer to command officers calling crime victims directly to intimidate them about their complaints.

    As a result, the tapes show, the rank-and-file NYPD street cop experiences enormous pressure in a strange catch-22: He or she is expected to maintain high “activity”—including stop-and-frisks—but, paradoxically, to record fewer actual crimes.

  16. Apologies for the off-topic, but I wonder if Prof Turley or his capable blog helpers (Mespo etc) could post this for comment;

    “The Ohio Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that police do not need to obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS tracking device to anyone’s vehicle.”

    I couldn’t believe my eyes.

  17. I actually support the law. Why should anyone be allowed to sit in San Francisco and “lie.” In fact, I vote we apply this law to legislatures everywhere. The jails would overflow.

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