The sit-lie law was passed recently in San Francisco, and a column in the San Francisco Chronicle examines the response.
“Nobody likes to lose an election, especially when you are convinced you will win. But now that the voters of San Francisco have spoken in favor of the sit/lie law, opponents have to make a decision.
“If they want to mutter and grouse about the election, that’s fine. They’ve been muttering and grousing about other, similar issues they opposed – Care Not Cash, the Community Justice Center – for years.
“But if they follow through with threats to challenge sit/lie in the courts, we have to question their motives. They can’t say that putting the financially strapped city through a costly lawsuit – which they would probably lose – is representing the will of the people. More than 105,000 voters supported sit/lie.
“That would be like giving the middle finger to the city,” said Police Chief George Gascón, who supported the measure. “This is more of an ideological statement. It is not about winning in court, which is unlikely since it has been challenged and confirmed in our courts and in our circuit. It is more about continuing to fight.”
“Opponents can say that the San Francisco version is citywide, not just confined to the business corridors as it is in Seattle. But this was a citywide vote, and the measure passed handily.
“It brings into question that age-old question: Who really speaks for the majority of residents? Sit/lie opponents were certain that they did, and that the proponents were just a few malcontents and big money developers.
“You’d hear that it was a couple of merchants in the Haight, or downtown interests,” Gascón said. “That’s bull crap.”
“Clearly the tide has turned since a less restrictive sit/lie ballot measure failed in 1994. But the far-left advocates seem intent on ignoring the voice of the voters.
“Opposition leaders have claimed the sit/lie law violates the Fourth and Eighth Amendments. But the Fourth defines “unreasonable search and seizure,” and the Eighth concerns “excessive bail, fines and cruel and unusual punishment.”
“Those arguments may be tough to prove. A cornerstone of the measure is that a warning is required from the officer before someone sitting on the sidewalk can be cited. There won’t be any unreasonable search or cruel and unusual punishment if the person simply gets up and moves.”