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The 21st street corridor between South Van Ness and Folsom streets has a reputation for drug dealers, prostitution and the chronic alcoholics who sometimes get in fights and have been known to vandalize property.

Also there: New Door Ventures, an organization that helps at-risk youth, and the Jose Coronado Playground that runs after school programs.

Greg Corrales, the Mission Police captain, said that given these factors he would welcome

A broken window in a building on the 21st Street corridor. Neighbors say that drug dealing and prostitution abounds.

the controversial sit/lie policy, which would outlaw people from sitting or lying on public sidewalks. The Police Commission will consider the proposal on Wednesday.  Most of the businesses and residents in the area, however, were ambivalent.

“It wouldn’t solve anything,” said Javier Madero, the catering manager at the Peruvian restaurant Limón. He added that even though customers complain almost daily, he suggested police should aim their efforts toward rehabilitating the “drunks.”

Neighbors said they see an ambulance pick up an intoxicated person at the park at least once a week.

Dan Quon, a youth development specialist at New Door Ventures, said he hasn’t taken a stance yet. However, he said that there should be a greater priority in rehabilitating the “drunks” and sit/lie would be a short-term solution that might just move the problem elsewhere.

The mayor introduced the proposal last week to give police the ability to remove Haight Street “thugs” who harass shop owners and pedestrians.

One of the first proposals drafted prohibited sit/lie only on certain commercial corridors but the latest proposal introduced and the one the Police Commission will consider today would make the ban citywide.

Despite being the most-reported spot in the Mission at SeeClickFix, a web site that allows users to post problems in their neighborhood, some residents said the “drunks” don’t bother anyone.

The site shows 22 people who want the chronic “drunks,” drug dealers and prostitutes gone and has 1099 views since it opened almost two years ago. Its closest competitor is the corner at 16th and Mission Streets with 10 people who want the “drugged up bums” removed and has 594 views since it opened around the same time.

Lisa Horn, who lives on Shotwell Street near the park, said she has never had any issues since she moved here in 1995.

“This is a city,” she said. “This doesn’t even compare to other places — it has gotten better.”

Clancy Fear from Pedal Revolution knows this well. Years back he saw the check cashing place next door held at gunpoint three times and a woman being dragged after trying to hold on to her stolen car.

“I used to call the cops every day,” he said, adding that nowadays things have calmed down except for the open drug dealing and prostitution.

Jose Arturo Mata, the owner of Tortas El Primo, agreed.

“This is like heaven now compared to before,” he said, adding that he opposes the proposal and favored rehabilitation for the “drunks.”

Mata said he knows most of them are from Central American and knows them by name now.

Still, Corrales said he would welcome the proposal because it would give their officers more tools to deal with complaints in the area.

Though many residents have seen anything from open drug deals in daylight to intoxicated people taken by ambulances, police crime data shows this corridor to have similar crime patterns to other corners over the past 30 days.

Wilson Scotto, an employee at Muzio’s, a nearby liquor store, said he would welcome the proposal but had doubts it would work.

“It’s always been like this,” he said.

Irma Serrano said she feels safe bringing her daughters to the park.

The biggest concern for Nick Pagoulatos of Dolores Street Community Services is that police might use sit/lie to target the Latino homeless throughout the Mission, he said.

“We have seen instances where they have overcharging member of the community and it appears that it is based on their race,” he said. “They are being arrested and turned them over to ICE and sit/lie would basically give them another way of doing that.”

Corrales said only those committing crimes will be arrested.

Pagoulatos added that there are already existing laws that, if enforced, would eliminate the need for sit/lie.

Supervisor David Campos agrees.

“If you have the right kind of police presence and are connected to the community, you probably wouldn’t need sit and lie.” Campos said. He added that since Corrales began his new tenure last year, he has met with several community groups.

Neighbors for the most part said more policing has helped. Corrales said that he asks his officers to put an emphasis on this corner.

Irma Serrano, a volunteer at St. Martha Lutheran Church, gives food to some of the homeless people that hang out in the park.

“They don’t pose a threat,” she said. “I feel safe bringing my twin [girls].”

She added that like most neighbors, she would rather the “drunks” hang out elsewhere, but said if sit/lie is enforced the problem will migrate or come back later. For her,  the biggest concern is the drug dealers and prostitutes near the liquor store.

Campos said an alternative to sit/lie would be foot patrols and beat cops and cites the Ingleside station as an example.

“It’s not surprising that the discussion about sit/lie is not happening in those parts of the city,” he said.

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Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare time he can be found riding his bike around the city, going to Giants games and admiring the Stable building.

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  1. As I have lived a block from this hot spot for two decades I don’t even notice it anymore. It’s just another place where human garbage congregates in this city.

    Reading this article was an eye opener though, I didn’t know that arresting Latino drunk’s where Latino drunks hang out was racist. There goes the racial ambulance… I hope any drunk Irish that get arrested this St Patty’s see a race huckster lawyer the minute they get out.

    I’ve sent a couple of E-mails to Campos over the Capp st, Shotwell area between 17th and 22 a number of times and I have got the same response people who E-mail Merken get. The middle finger.

    Campos is just another pathological liar, lawyer scumbag, progressive with an agenda, and it doesn’t include the citizens of his district, that work, pay taxes and obey the law. It was nice of him to return the call of the author of this piece.

    Also the losers who spend their days getting wasted around the park are hardly victims and don’t want your condescending “help.” When the cities sniveling progressives figure out that these people neither want nor need help, unless it’s help getting wasted, the sooner the problem will abate.

  2. It would be really great if the author could stop referring to people as “drunks” and “thugs.” In what seems like a misguided effort to be unbiased you managed to do exactly that with simply your vernacular. People need help. Let’s stop blaming them and start being a part of the real solution. Kudos to those in the article, and active members of the community, for realizing that.

    1. Thank you for you comment Megan. After putting some thought to your comment, I am starting to agree with you. I shouldn’t of labeled people that way. I was going with the description that others put on them, and in that case I should of used quotation marks. It was easy for me to just call them “drunks” since some people said and I have seen that some of them drink to the point that an ambulance has to come and pick them up.

      After speaking with some colleagues, we reached the conclusion that putting those terms in quotation marks might be more appropriate. I know that is not the solution, so I am asking you what is a better way of saying it?

      thank you in advanced and I look forward to hearing your response.

  3. I don’t mind the public drinking in the neighborhood anywhere near as I mind the public urination that always seems to follow.

  4. If the parents in this neighborhood feels safe to bring their daughters to the park then what’s the problem? I don’t care if the alcholics and drug users want to get drunk or do drugs. I just don’t want them to do it on the steps of my flat.