San Francisco Sit-Lie Ordinance, Proposition L (November 2010)

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A San Francisco Sit-Lie Ordinance is on the November 2, 2010 ballot for voters in San Francisco.[1] The measure is also known by its supporters as the Civil Sidewalks proposition.

The ordinance would restrict sitting or lying on sidewalks citywide from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and provide access to social services for those who need it. Police officers must give a warning before they can give a citation and the ordinance cannot be used to restrict the people's rights to free speech and peaceful assembly.[2]

The Sit-Lie Ordinance conflicts with the San Francisco Police Foot Patrol Program, which is also on the November 2, 2010 ballot.


Civil Sidewalks campaign logo

Gavin Newsom is the measure's main sponsor and cheerleader. Police Chief George Gascon is also a fan of the measure.[3]

The sit-lie ordinance is also endorsed by a long list of Upper Haight, Polk Street, Irving Street, Market Street and Mission Street merchants.[4]

Organizations that endorse the sit-lie ordinance include:

  • Buena Vista Neighborhood Association
  • Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco
  • Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods
  • Cole Valley Improvement Association
  • Community Leadership Alliance
  • Greater Geary Boulevard Merchant Association
  • Haight Ashbury Improvement Association
  • Japantown Merchants Association
  • Japantown Task Force
  • Lower 24th St. Merchant and Neighborhood Association
  • Marina Merchants Association
  • Market Street Association
  • Merchants of Upper Market and Castro
  • Mission Bay/South Beach Business Association
  • Polk District Merchants Association
  • San Francisco Council of District Merchants Association
  • San Francisco Small Business Commission
  • Tenderloin Neighborhood Association


Homeless advocates oppose the measure, which they view as an attack on the homeless. The San Francisco Democratic Party overwhelmingly voted against the measure when it was an ordinance at the Board Of Supervisors, as did the San Francisco Labor Council. The ACLU is also opposed to the sit/lie law.[3]

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu opposes the sit-lie ordinance, calling it "unconstitutional and ineffective."[5]

Opposition to the law has been widespread, with as many as 1,000 people participating in decentralized protests in opposition to a sit/lie law on March 27th. "[6]

Poison pill?

At a Board of Supervisors meeting in July, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced a provision to a separate citywide ballot measure that some supervisors are considering that would require the San Francisco Police Department to operate a foot patrol program. The provision that Chiu added to the foot patrol ballot measure says that if the foot patrol measure passes and gets more votes than the sit-lie ordinance, the sit-lie ordinance will not go into effect even if it, too, obtains a majority vote. Such provisions in the wording of one ballot measure that negatively impact other ballot measures under certain conditions are known as "poison pills".[1]

Tony Winnicker, in his role as Gavin Newsom's spokesperson, said, "David Chiu has set a new world record for pettiness and amateurishness at City Hall, and all he’s done is ensure that the Civil Sidewalks measure will pass and their poorly conceived foot patrol measure that takes away power from the chief of police will fail."[1]

Path to the ballot

Gavin Newsom introduced the ordinance to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which declined to enact it. Newsom then moved to have the measure placed on the November ballot, where the city's voters can decide its fate.

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 San Francisco Examiner, "Sit-lie effort spurs ballot bickering", July 16, 2010
  2. San Francisco Examiner, "Newsom to unveil sit-lie ballot measure", June 15, 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 KTVU, "Sit-Lie Ordinance Passes Committee But Expected To Fail", May 24, 2010
  4. List of sit-lie endorsers
  5. San Francisco Chronicle, "Mayor takes low road...supervisors even lower", July 17, 2010
  6. [Mission Loc@l, "A Protest With Sitting, Lying, and Lemonade", March 28th, 2010

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