Sunday, July 5, 2009

New month, new rant... Intersection panhandlers

You probably seen them in and around San Francisco... they stand in popular intersections, usually near highway onramps with a traffic signal. When cars are stuck, they walk between cars with a sign hoping for handouts. I've even seen two working the same intersection... One does the left side and the other does the right side.

Then there are the oddball ones that wave a funny sign, like "I admit, I just want a beer", or even one that flashes the victory sign.

Don't they know that "aggressive panhandling" is ILLEGAL in San Francisco? And a lot of intersections prohibits panhandling? AND there's a law that you can't panhandling within 100 ft of an ATM? Yet I see people doing that every day.

The problem is there's a "Homeless Coalition" in San Francisco, that are defending the offenders, and they are using various tactics to get the tickets dismissed, often without even the defendents appearing in court. In fact, it's believed that 85% of the "quality of life" tickets are dismissed outright. These are attorneys working pro bono out of the some of the biggest law offices in town, in fact.

The point of the tickets is to get the homeless into treatment programs, and for that, they have to appear in front of a judge in court. But the lawyers, often demanding an incident report (which must be filed, admitted into evidence, and all that) is getting tickets dismissed due to lack of such a report (which is NOT REQUIRED, by the way), often over the objection of the prosecution, completely defeating the purpose of such laws.

But the Homeless Coalition claims that the tickets are merely harassment of people who are down on their luck and need to panhandle to get by.

Police and DA are getting tired of such circular reasoning. Think about it... It's like saying if you provide services I would not be breaking the law. It's completely backwards, as you should not be breaking the law in the first place. As one cop put it, "It's like saying 'if you had bought me new tires I would not have ran that stop sign.'"

And don't people know giving those guys cash doesn't really help them? It's like feeding wild bears... it makes them dependent on handouts of human food so they that will no longer hunt / scavenge in the wild. Same with panhandlers. Once they know they can make X dollars per hour doing this, do you really think they'll go get a job?

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