Post originally published on Change.org
On Tuesday, residents of San Francisco will go to the polls to vote on the Sit-Lie Ordinance (Proposition L). If passed, it will be illegal to sit or lie on a city sidewalk between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.
We argue that, if passed, this ordinance could potentially criminalize a person just for being homeless as the unhoused often become the target of such laws. Taxpayer dollars could be better spent creating and providing more affordable housing, supportive housing and services to assist these vulnerable individuals. With very few options, homeless people often have no other choice than to be on the streets and sidewalks. Outlawing them will only move them, not make them any less homeless. Stop the Sit-Lie Ordinance in San Francisco!
Meet some allies fighting for the fall of Prop L: the Sit/Lie Posse, a group of artists who have done some guerrilla activism and taken over billboard and bus stop ads with their own artwork to urge voters to say no to Prop L. The ads can be found throughout the city, including where there is strong backing of the proposition, around City Hall, the Haight-Ashbury district and others.
Officials in San Francisco are looking into the ads since they were put up illegally. The anonymous ads weren’t paid for and they cover up other paid ads. The Sit/Lie Posse asserts they are artists who have liberated the ad spaces. Their spokesperson, Jim Rawley, said in a press release that “Prop. L ignores due process and criminalizes people based on appearance. If you look like you’re homeless, you can be arrested while tourists and the wealthy get a free pass with first class treatment.”
(In an interesting side note, San Francisco Chronicle writer Heather Knight points out that Jim Rawley is also the name of a Grapes of Wrath character who ran the Weedpatch camp and embraced the migrant Joad family. Coincidence?)
The voters of San Francisco will make their final decision regarding Proposition L this Tuesday. This is clearly a controversial piece of legislation with very strong opinions on both sides. We continue to argue the point that Proposition L is potentially dangerous to the already vulnerable homeless population within San Francisco. Homeless individuals do not need more ambiguous laws that are often unfairly leveled against them; they need more supportive services and housing options to assist them in moving from the sidewalk to a home.
To read the post on Change.org, click here.