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KCBS Cover Story: San Francisco’s Sit/Lie Shuffle In The Haight

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Corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco. (CBS)

Corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – In November 2010, San Francisco voters passed the Sit/Lie law, which made it illegal to sit on the City’s sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., but that hasn’t deterred transients on Haight Street from doing it anyway.

“I sit out on the sidewalk all the time. Everyday,” said transient Andrew Cooke. “I’ve had two sit and lie tickets.”

But Cook, like hundreds, hasn’t paid for any of them. He and his friend said they need to “spange”—ask for spare change from passers-by—along San Francisco’s famed Haight Street, where tourists get off open-topped busses seeking the hippies and remnants from the Summer of Love.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

The Haight-Ashbury district is also a hangout for the homeless and drug users.

The City’s Park police station has issued 231 sit/lie tickets in the first year that it has been enforced, according to Lieutenant Mike Caplan.

“Generally what we do with this district is we respond to citizens complaints about people blocking the sidewalk,” he said.

“There’s a few chronic folks that don’t get it and continually get tickets. Most people, when they are warned, heed the warning.”

While it is illegal to sit on the sidewalk, it is legal to sit in the park so many without anywhere else to stay, go to Golden Gate Park and hang out at Alvord Lake—a body of water that recreational drug users refer to as “Hep-C Pond.”

As the darkness of night approaches, the shuffle continues as they have to leave the park.

“There’s a no sleeping bag policy: ‘Camping.’ It’s not camping when you are trying to be warm in San Francisco,” Cook said.

Caplan describes enforcing sit/lie as shoveling sand against the tide.

“As far as getting rid of everybody, it’s probably never going to happen,” he said.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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