Citizens of the Most Liberal City in America are freaking out. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is putting to a vote a law that would make it illegal to sit or lie down on a sidewalk.
Don't worry, San Francisco. Even though this will soon be illegal in your town, it won't damage your image too much.
For San Franciscans, this is causing an identity crisis. The city is notoriously permissive of almost everyone, including the homeless who would be impacted the most. It's like if Daytona Beach outlawed American flags and 20 oz. to-go cups.
For Seattleites, though, this is old news. Because Newsom is modeling his law after the one passed in 1993 by then-City Attorney/streetsweeper Mark Sidran.Newsom's legislation is more far-reaching. Where in Seattle it's only illegal to take a nap downtown during business hours, San Francisco's law would make sidewalk-siestas illegal across the entire city.
But if our neighbors to the South are worried about appearing hostile to those less fortunate, they might take what's happened -- or, more specifically, what hasn't happened -- in Seattle in the past year to heart.
Comprehensive enforcement stats for our city's sit/lie ordinance aren't available. But City Attorney spokesperson Kimberly Mills was able to provide Daily Weekly with a snapshot of 2009, a year in which only 57 infractions were handed out and only 23 ended up in charges, half of which were eventually dismissed.
Compare that with a law that gets violated a lot, like the nearly 5,000 people who were charged last year for driving with a suspended license, and Mills says you can tell Sidran's law is not enforced all that often.
Not that this will make it any easier to persuade San Francisco to lie down for Newsom's new law. But it should make its citizens feel more secure knowing that America's Second Most Liberal City didn't lose its cred after passing something similar.