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Haight-Ashbury Merchants See Results From Sit-Lie Ordinance

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Homeless man in San Francisco (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A homeless man in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco’s controversial sit-lie ordinance appears to be working, even before it’s formally being enforced.

Voters passed Proposition L, more commonly referred to as San Francisco’s sit-lie ordinance, in the November 2010 election. Police officers are currently undergoing training, and the law won’t officially be applied until mid-February.

KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:

Prop L allows police officers to cite individuals for sitting, lounging or panhandling on a sidewalk in San Francisco without a citizen’s complaint having first been lodged.

The idea gained steam in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, where vendors had long complained about the problem of people crowding the sidewalks, discouraging shoppers from coming to the neighborhood.

Business owners have said they have already noticed a change since the election.

“It seems like people who were going to move moved when they heard the law passed,” said Bruce Smith, owner of Robert’s Hardware on Haight St. “Not that they’ve enforced it, or they’ve threatened to enforce it, but there’s fewer people on the streets and I think they actually moved when they heard that it passed.”

“The word got out that they were going to enforce the sit-lie law and people have made their decisions whichever way they want to go,” Smith theorized.

He hoped that Prop L would continue to deter panhandlers in the area.

“Anything that would be good for business, anything that can get more people in the street shopping would be a good thing.”

“If it turns out that this law doesn’t make a big difference then, you know, we’ll see what else has to be done,” added Ted Lowenberg, president of the Haight-Ashbury Improvement Association.

Lowenberg described summer as the real test of Prop L.

“I think once the nicer weather sets in, we’ll see more of the wanderers back again with their dogs and so on. That’s when we’ll really see this law put to the test.”

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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