As advocates and proponents of a new sit-lie law in San Francisco start assembling their notes for an upcoming debate by the city's Board of Supervisors, an interesting story is unfolding in Palo Alto.
That city, which has had a sit-lie law that applies to the commercial district on University Avenue and the nearby Whole Foods chain grocery store, charged a disabled man for sitting on a sidewalk. The case went all the way to trial which ended Friday with a mistrial. Jurors were split whether they wanted to convict 61-year old Victor Frost.
Frost's lawyers claimed he sets up his milk crate outside the 50-foot perimeter, and that his health problems, which keep him from standing, exempt him from the law.
Frost, who lives in subsidized housing, depends on food and donations from passerby to support himself.
In San Francisco, the board of the local Democratic Partyvoted to pass a resolution in opposition to broader site-lie law in the city, with all in favor save for two abstentions.
Mayor Gavin Newsom's proposed law will have to be approved by a majority of supervisors, three of whom site on the party board which voiced its opposition. The mayor has promised to place an item on the November ballot if the board doesn't pass his law.
Palo Alto is many months ahead of San Fransisco on this one. It played out the law all the way to a trial, which got the city nothing in the end. Frost still sits on his crate and now he has the experience of a trial behind him, just in case prosecutors decide to take the law even further with a retrial.