As I was walking away from the Haight Street, down Cole Street, past Cole Cafe, I could not help but think what a difference such a short distance makes. On the San Francisco ballot is the Sit / Lie Ordinance. The bulletin boards have been lighting up about the subject for some time now.
Cole Valley lies adjacent to the Haight Street thoroughfare, yet has few of the sit / lie problems of its neighbor. Cole Valley is mostly peaceful, mostly residential. Residents of Cole Valley can easily enjoy what the Haight has to offer, by walking a couple of blocks. Yet, there are no guards, no fencing preventing anyone from moving from the Haight to Cole Valley.
While this is America and civil rights need to be respected, the right of a person to sit and lie wherever he or she likes creates a negative externality, and affects the city budget. It is really not the right to lie or sit that is affected, but rather the right to do it anywhere, including places that cause negative externalities that is at issue.
Secondly, can we afford it?. When there is an sit / lie incidence, two officers generally come out to the scene, with a vehicle and additional support at the office. There is likely a difference between the economic value of the person sitting and lying, and the cost of externalities and policing, possibly millions. Resources are not unlimited in the city, and there are other problems.
As I walk into Cole Valley and further from Haight Street, I could not stop thinking about the value of finding a fair and economical solution.