SAN FRANCISCO — Day laborers and domestic workers protested Saturday against an ordinance introduced by Mayor Gavin Newsom last month that would make it illegal to sit or lie on public sidewalks.
At the demonstration in the city’s Mission district, about 40 people sat in metal chairs and stood along the sidewalk, some holding signs that read, “Sidewalks are for people, No on Sit/Lie.”
Teresa Delgado, 40, an immigrant from Mexico who spoke through an interpreter, said her husband, Erasmo, often waits hours on the street to be picked up for work and needs to be able to sit down.
Her message for the mayor: “Don’t push for this law because it would affect me and other working class families.”
Tony Winnicker, a spokesman for the mayor, said the law is not intended to go after people like Delgado’s husband who are looking for work on the streets.
The goal is instead to give police another tool to target threatening behavior on city sidewalks that affects residents and business owners, particularly in the city’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, Winnicker said.
“Unfortunately, opponents continue to make exaggerated and hyperbolic claims about our proposal,” he said.
Newsom unveiled two versions of the sit-lie ordinance at a board of supervisors meeting last month. One would apply to the entire city while the other would only affect certain commercial areas.
Winnicker said the mayor would pursue a ballot measure if the board of supervisors did not pass a sit-lie law.
Saturday’s protest by day laborers was among several demonstrations in the city, including a performance by drag queens on the sidewalk in the Tenderloin district against the proposed ordinance.
Andy Blue, one of the organizers of the events, said the law is not necessary.
“If people are being threatening or violent, there are laws against those things,” he said. “There shouldn’t be a law against sitting on the sidewalk.”
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