A law that would make bike “chop shops” illegal will move to the Board of Supervisors for a vote after winning over two former opponents, who changed their minds now that police won’t be enforcing the law.
District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin and representatives of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, who previously opposed the proposal, voiced their support at a committee hearing during which supervisors greenlit the legislation to go to the full Board for approval on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
“Supervisor Sheehy has some reasonable steps to make [the legislation] less objectionable, given that it really is a problem throughout the city,” Peskin said at Monday’s Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting before recommending the proposal move to a full-board vote.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition also spoke in support of prohibiting chop shops, now that Public Works crews — not police officers — will be responsible for enforcement.
“While we were unable to support the legislation in its original form, we are now comfortable to support the legislation as amended,” said Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition.
The legislation, sponsored by District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, would prohibit “the assembly, disassembly, sale, offer of sale, distribution, or offer of distribution on public property or public rights-of-way of bicycles and bicycle parts.” A person having five or more bicycles, three or more bicycles with missing parts, a bike frame with severed brake or gear cables, or five or more bicycle parts on the street would receive a notice.
Public Works staff would be responsible for issuing notices and removing the bicycles and parts from the sidewalk. The recipient of the notice would have a chance to retrieve the items within 30 days, if they can prove ownership.
An earlier version of the proposal had been scheduled for a full-board vote back in July, but was returned to the committee after Sheehy made major changes.
In a year, 60 percent of calls about bike theft were fielded by Mission Station, according research presented by Sheehy’s office.
Advocates for the homeless, the proposal’s most vocal detractors, still say the law criminalizes the unhoused.
“It was a complete disregard for the possibility that homeless people could be owners of five or more bike parts,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, after the committee’s decision. “It’s not okay to treat homeless people that way. I thought it was pretty disgusting.”
Friedenbach believes the law would violate the Fourth Amendment rights of homeless people. “You can’t confiscate people’s property without probable cause,” she said.
“It’s simply something we believe is dangerous,” said Lenine Umali, a Director of External Affairs and Policy at Compass Family Services, during public comment. “For the already vulnerable homeless population in San Francisco, we believe [the ordinance] would unnecessarily focus city resources on criminalizing them, even though this is now being housed under Public Works.”