SAN FRANCISCO: Newly proposed legislation concerning panhandling
has set off a flurry of public debate over the issue of homelessness in
Supervisor Gavin Newsom has drafted legislation that would ban
panhandling from street medians, parking lots, public transportation
stations, ATMs and near movie theaters.
His proposal has provoked intense media coverage across the state and
interest from national newspapers. His press team said it was not
entirely prepared for such a strong reaction, even though homeless
issues are always a provocative topic in San Francisco. The Coalition on
Homelessness has publicly criticized the bill.
"I was a bit surprised. I don't think I was expecting quite as much
response as I got," said Michael Farrah, Newsom's legislative aide, who
has been handling press calls. Articles have run in the Los Angeles
Times, Reuters and numerous radio stations. National newspapers have
also been calling.
Farrah said the biggest misconception he is dealing with is that Newsom
proposed the measures in an attempt to gain publicity for a mayoral bid
when Mayor Willie Brown's term is up in two years.
Newsom's team was also concerned about his image while drafting the
"We were very concerned Newsom would come across as mean-spirited, so we
had to include this legislation with other reforms," explained
The bill includes ideas for improving the condition of shelters, and
making sure there are enough shelter beds and treatment services for the
Newsom also wants to hold a regional conference on homelessness this