Since there's no good newspaper left in San Francisco, I guess it's up to the Washington Post to report stories like this.
Today, in 2010, the difference between New York City and San Francisco (or Santa Monica) is amazing. I'm always a little shocked out west and think, "Wow, I thought we figured out how to deal with this problem years ago."
I've noticed there is generally more aggressive begging in "nice" neighborhoods than there is in any poor neighborhood. Rich neighborhoods are safer. And in the ghetto, people have less money to give. Plus it's easier to play off white liberal guilt in "nice" parts of town.
In the past 20 years, homelessness has not gone away in New York City, but it's gotten a hell of lot better for both the homeless and normal residents.
Police need to pay attention to "Broken Windows" quality-of-life urban issues. Homelessness is one of these issues. But, some say, the link between "Broken Issues" issues and violent crime has never been proven. True. It may or may not exist (though I suspect it does).
But homicides have gone way down in San Fransisco without any obviously corresponding drop in quality-of-life issues. But quality-of-life issues matter for their own sake. Those who think that public urination, for instance, doesn't matter probably have never had anybody piss on their stoop.
Homeless people have problems. No home, for one. Unemployment, for another. And, more often than not, mental illness and substance abuse. Too many homeless advocates (though not all) seem to advocate for more homelessness rather than less. Aggressive begging helps neither the homeless nor the city.
San Francisco, in terms of homeless and aggressive begging, is like NYC 20 years ago. It doesn't have to be this way. While walking down the street, people have a right not be harassed while walking down the street. Period.
Idiots, like one guy quoted in the story, say that anti-homeless laws, "unfairly targets the poor, homeless and people of color. 'If you illegalize sleeping, camping, lying, sitting, congregating, then what's left: Walking?'" Oh, please. That attitude is so 1980s!
Homeless is a problem for both social services and police (yes, solving the problem does cost money). One without the other won't work. But without the police "or else" of arrest, some people will always "choose" to live on the streets. In my block, that's not an acceptable choice.
If you think thank that homeless should be allowed to live on my block or on my subway, I invite you instead to welcome them to camp in your yard or commute in your car.