bureaucracybusters

BRING ON THE ROACHES–INSECT AND HUMAN: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on June 22, 2018 at 12:05 am

To capture the true intensity of the “homeless” problem in San Francisco, you must confront its realities at the street level.  Imagine:

  • You’re elderly, and walking with a cane—and must often try to negotiate your way around big tents that take up most of a sidewalk.
  • You’re riding in a wheelchair along a sidewalk until you come to a large mattress lying directly in your path, with a potentially psychotic “homeless” man lying upon it. 
  • You find a street teeming with rats—eating the food scraps left by “homeless” people.
  • You board a local bus and are forced to sit near a man stinking of feces and/or urine. Naturally, the driver doesn’t put him off—giving you the choice of surviving the stench or getting off to catch another bus.
  • You walk into an underground Municipal Railway bus station—and find it littered with derelicts passed out or shooting up heroin in plain sight. Naturally, they don’t worry about picking up their used hypodermic needles. They leave those out for others to step on or pick up at their own risk.

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  • You’re standing at a bus stop or eating in a restaurant—when a large, filthy, possibly disease-carrying man or woman demands a “handout” from you.
  • You can’t use the elevator at the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station because “homeless” derelicts have ruined its mechanism with urine and feces.

In 2010, San Francisco voters passed the “No Sit/No Lie” ordinance, which “makes it unlawful, with certain exceptions, to sit or lie on a public sidewalk, or on an object placed on a public sidewalk, between 7AM and 11PM.” 

But walk down almost any street in the downtown part of the city and you’ll find sidewalks crowded with stinking, disease-ridden, lice/bedbug-infested, drug-addicted, alcohol-soaked, often psychotic men and women whom city officials politely refer to as “the homeless.” 

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Among the trappings that go with this population:

  • Tents
  • Mattresses
  • Piles of belongings
  • Stolen shopping cards
  • Trash
  • Half-eaten food
  • Empty cans/bottles of alcohol
  • Feces
  • Hypodermic needles

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What you’ll almost never see: Police actually enforcing the “No Sit/No Lie” ordinance.

So much for the will of the voters.

San Francisco officials have effectively washed their hands of the problem. If local residents must put up with repeated violations of the most basic sanitation laws, that’s their tough luck.

What matters to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors is this: The “rights” of those whose filth and behavior pose an immediate threat to public health and safety take precedence over those of tax-paying, law-abiding San Franciscans.

San Francisco residents can be fined $25 to $1,000 for feeding pigeons—but not for feeding street bums.

During the Mayorship of Willie Brown (1996 – 2004), Hizzonor proposed what he thought was a brilliant way for residents to “contribute” to “street people.”

Those who were somehow certified as “homeless” would be issued special electronic “cash cards.” When someone wanted to make a “donation,” s/he would swipe a credit card against the one owned by the street bum, for whatever amount s/he wanted to donate.

But before the program started, someone at City Hall realized a blunt truth: Residents—especially women—weren’t likely to whip out their credit cards in front of a ranting, foul-smelling, probably disease-ridden street bum. 

It’s long past time for San Francisco—and other cities—to stop catering to the druggies, alcoholics, mental cases and bums who prey on the guilt or fear of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. 

The same laws that protect citizens against patients with highly communicable diseases like typhoid and cholera should be vigorously applied to those whose filthy habits threaten similar public contagion.

Among such reforms:

  • The city should launch a “Please Do Not Feed the Bums” publicity campaign—as it has against feeding pigeons. And it should be backed up with stiff fines for those caught doing so.  
  • Those living on the street should be given a choice: Go to a local shelter or face arrest and the immediate confiscation of their possessions.
  • Bus drivers should have the right to refuse passengers who stink of urine/feces, as they present a potential health-hazard to others.
  • The owners of restaurants should likewise be allowed to refuse service on the same basis.
  • Those applying for welfare benefits should be required to provide proof of residence. Too many people come to San Francisco because, upon arrival, they can immediately apply for such benefits.
  • The city should set up a special unit to deal entirely with removing “street people” and their possessions from city sidewalks. This could be a division of the Sanitation Department, since its personnel are used to removing filth and debris of all types. 

San Francisco officials need to:

  • Forcefully tell alcoholics and drug addicts: “Your anti-social behavior is not welcome here. Take your self-destructive lifestyles elsewhere.  We won’t subsidize them.”
  • Take the mentally unstable off the street and place them in institutions where their needs can be met. 
  • Tell those who are just plain bums: Don’t expect us to support you.

Only then will San Francisco rightly reclaim its former glory as “the city by the Bay.”

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