BART Arrests Mount as Strict Enforcement of No-Sit Violation Continues

August 30, 2014 11:00 am · 37 comments


We have a lot of BART riders in Claycord who frequent the San Francisco stations, so this one’s for you.

Homeless advocates are criticizing efforts by BART police officers to enforce a no-sit policy implemented in two San Francisco BART stations since mid July as being too harsh.

According to BART, the strict enforcement campaign is designed to bring the stations into compliance with California law, which requires that stations be able to evacuate safely in four to six minutes.

People who lay or sleep in the station corridors are, according to BART police Lt. Tyrone Forte, a potential impediment to speedy evacuation. He said BART could be held negligent if an emergency were to occur and the exits were not accessible due to people sitting in the corridors.

According to BART, the first infraction is responded to with a verbal warning and a possible citation. The second infraction is met with another citation, but the third infraction includes a summons for a court appearance and potentially an arrest or fine.

Since BART’s enforcement campaign began on July 21, however, critics in San Francisco have called BART’s approach and tactics inhumane, citing a high arrest rate and an insufficient number of beds available in the city’s shelters to accommodate the homeless rousted by police.

BART police began enforcing the building code at the Powell BART station and expanded their efforts to the Civic Center station shortly thereafter. Forte said the 30 people who have been arrested at the two stations were initially contacted regarding violation of the building code,

but some were arrested for either refusing to leave the station, having outstanding warrants or other infractions.

He also said that the stricter enforcement has resulted in an increase in people seeking shelter inside the neighboring BART stations.

On Sept. 8, however, BART police will begin their enforcement of the no-sit violation at the Embarcadero BART station, with enforcement at Montgomery station to follow, Forte said.

Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, is a fierce opponent of BART’s enforcement tactics and approach, calling the enforcement “harsh” as well as “a misapplication of the building code.”

She said that individuals take up a small section of the large underground corridors, and in the event of an emergency, they would be evacuated as well. “If they aren’t harming anyone, they should be left alone,” Friedenbach said.

Friedenbach said that BART police do provide homeless individuals with information about the city’s shelter resources, many of which are at capacity most nights, or difficult to access without a phone.

One of the primary resources suggested to homeless individuals by BART police is the Homeless Outreach Team, known as the HOT team, which provides case management and services to homeless people who are on the street and not using other city homeless services.

However, HOT team case manager Angella David said today that the HOT team is not accepting new cases, hasn’t been for about two months and probably won’t accept new cases until December.

David said their caseworkers are at capacity and that the city’s shelters are full almost every night. She said there is some wiggle room for people in life-or-death situations, but otherwise there are limited shelter opportunities compared to the number of people in need of shelter.

Friedenbach said that there are fewer than 1,200 beds available in the shelters city-wide, and that many of those are occupied by people with 90-day long reservations, making it difficult to provide shelter for walk-in cases and those on the waitlist.

According to the 2013 Homeless Count, a biennial tally gathered by volunteers, the San Francisco Police Department and the HOT Team, gathered by canvassing the city to count homeless individuals, 6,436 people were identified as homeless in San Francisco, with more than half of those people living on the streets, according to the city’s Human Services Agency.

With roughly 3,400 individuals living on the city streets and only 1,200 shelter beds, critics argue that the roughly 2,200 people left without a warm place during the night should not be kicked out of public places that shelter them from the elements.

good for bart August 30, 2014 at 11:28 AM

finally, they do something right. now if they could only enforce the other rules…. eating, drinking, fare evasion/ gate jumping, etc. nevertheless, a step in the right direction. maybe friedenbach can take a few homeless home with her if she’s that worried about them.

PhilthyPHRESH August 30, 2014 at 12:00 PM

You liberals would say it’s inhumane, but guess what, none of you liberals got bums living at your house, you humanitarians, you.

Anon August 30, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Everybody does what they want to do in California.

Craig Cannon August 30, 2014 at 12:28 PM

It is Cruel to Kick a Homeless Person from a Sheltered Spot, Yes. BART was designed for Transportation, not for Housing. Those Caverns of Stations Get Packed at Rush Hour Twice a Day, Plus Busy on Game Days. The Urine, and Other Odors Left Behind by Hobo’s, and Riders Themselves is a Deterrent. Ever Seen A Hobo Jump Right Up and Move Out, Like a Commuter? They Don’t want to Move. Sleeping, Intoxicated, this isn’t a Place For Living. Emergency Exits, and Corridors were Designed for Just So. BART Emergencies are Common. This is a Fast Moving Transportation System. Impeding Exit or Even Slowing it down in a Disaster Will Cost Lives. I Donate to Soup Kitchens. Maybe if we all Give a Little, this will Lighten Up. More an Oakland SF Issue, but we all Use BART at Some Time. It’s Hard Knowing People Need Homes/Help. Unfortunately, Many Don’t want The Normalcy. Hobo-Means Homeward Bound. No Insult.

Schmee August 30, 2014 at 12:29 PM

I’m very liberal.

This sounds good to me. I hate lazy people as most homeless people are. Trust me ive known many. They choose to not get a job and instead get drunk or do drugs all day. If they have mental health issues put them in a hospital.

Nellie August 30, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Yes. Let them take refuge in Pacific heights Mansion areas and Sea Cliff Bart is bad enough now without having to trapse over bodies and puddles of pee.
I was appalled when I went in to SF via bart. The smell of urine was atrocious and the lice were hopping all over one guy and his napsack.
I was also shocked at the speed the Bart driver was going…possibly 90mph
with those old rickety trains. No wonder there are so many problems. Pretty

Anon August 30, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Thank God that isn’t a problem on the new BART trains. Heck they don’t even HAVE seats in them. LOL

Anon August 30, 2014 at 12:32 PM

OH, ya, how did I forget this one… Did the sergeant approve those arrests?

county employee August 30, 2014 at 1:12 PM

How about they crack down on panhandling too?

That's All Folks! August 30, 2014 at 1:16 PM

More arrests means job security for the sergeants.

anonanonagain August 30, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Part of San Francisco’s homeless problem is that it is a magnet for people arriving from out of state flocking to SF because of their liberal tolerance of the homeless. While not all homeless people are not drug addicted or alcoholics, many of them are. There are also those that have slipped through the cracks that have mental health issues. I love the city, but I hate the fact that I have to almost trip over the homeless in order to get to my destination and the aggressive panhandling is something that needs to be addressed….

Elwood August 30, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Hopefully, they all took a good dump on the escalator before bedding down.

kax August 30, 2014 at 3:13 PM

most homelessness is a choice…..laziness, booze, and drugs are the reasons most are homeless….and some are, indeed, very mentally impaired….those are the only ones i ever help…..the lazy, drunken, junkies, can all die for all i care…..i’m not bogged down by any ridiculous religious ideals that may suggest that i should help these people…rather, as a devout Darwinist, i believe in “sink or swim”….so many opportunities exist and they want every one of those given to them…..

@ Craig Cannon August 30, 2014 at 3:16 PM

I think your posts might be insightful but they are extremely hard to read. Please brush up on your writing skills. You do not have to capitalize every word in a sentence, just the first one. Thanks.

Lari August 30, 2014 at 3:21 PM

I take the train from Concord to Oakland and in my 20 years riding it’s been within the past year that I’ve noticed almost every car in the AM has several homeless guys taking up two seats sleeping. Used to be one now and again…..but several, in most every car? The stations on SF are the pits.

Kirk August 30, 2014 at 3:23 PM

They will say this until their is a fire on the BART train station then they will scream that it was BART’s fault for allowing the fire hazard.

Anonymous August 30, 2014 at 3:27 PM

Yo Sarge I have a sleeper here. What should I do?

Is he really sleeping or just dozing?

Well should I wake him up and find out?

LostBoysMom August 30, 2014 at 4:09 PM

@ Schmee – You can’t force an adult with mental illness into a hospital. They have to consent. It is very frustrating when you have adult child with a mental illness that won’t consent.
And @ Kax most drug users have underlying mental illness. They are not just lazy.

j. Guerrero August 30, 2014 at 4:57 PM

Lets not forget the purpose of Bart. It is for transportation not a shelter. Fix the shelter situation and let Bart do their job.

Aldrige Family August 30, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Finally, took long enough.

chari cole August 30, 2014 at 5:11 PM

As an RN in the USA for over 38 years, I have educated myself on the homeless situation in this country. You sick creeps that talk about the homeless being lazy etc… need to educate yourselves. If they have a mental illness, they do not get the help they need thanks to the Reagan years. Our country has become a sick mixture of the 1% raping us and the others that complain and do not know what they are talking about, or the people who just do not care. I was born and raised in upstate NY so do not even try to say I am an immigrant! My grandfather’s family came over in the 1640s and fought in the Revolutionary, Civil War, and WWI and WWII. I am a true American and I do not understand people without compassion who are so ignorant! Give these people a place to go to and the help they need. Also, look into the families that are homeless thanks to the outsourcing of jobs by the 1%. Watch out as some day it may happen to you if this country does not go after the 1% and protect the Poor and Middle Classes.

PhilthyPHRESH August 30, 2014 at 5:41 PM

I suggest re-examine your life, so you do not end up a bum. Or a courtesy clerk at a local Walmart at 55 years old.

anon August 30, 2014 at 5:43 PM

This is not a debate whether homeless people are lazy vs mental. It is simply a fact that BART stations are not homeless shelters.

When I pay to ride BART I am a customer paying for a service with a specific set of standards which, in BART’s current condition, is in a perpetual state of violation by homeless people.

1. Safety (I do not feel safe around crazy homeless people)
2. Peace (I expect to not be harassed by homeless people)
3. Cleanliness, sanitation (Homeless people make BART a giant toilet)

Listen, liberals, if you are so concerned for homeless people then come up with a solution for them instead of deciding how to infringe on other peoples’ services.

..... August 30, 2014 at 5:49 PM

Just because you’ve been an RN for “over 38 years” and “educated” yourself on the homeless does not mean you have the knowledge or expertise to develop a workable solution. You state several times to “give them” this or that and to “go after the 1%”.

Frankly, you sound more like a union stooge than someone who really cares and has ideas about how to deal with it.

Shelly August 30, 2014 at 6:11 PM

There but for the Grace of somebody…

Julio August 30, 2014 at 6:24 PM

This country does not take care of it’s own. We spend Zillions on every other country in the world and we are soon to be a third world country too.

I love this country but folks have to wake up and shut off the steady stream of aid elsewhere.

..... August 30, 2014 at 7:21 PM

So let’s hear some ideas of how to solve the issue, rather than plying the standard liberal mantra of “going after the 1%.”

How about it?

working class stiff August 30, 2014 at 9:41 PM

Am I the only one that remembers that when BART first opened it was a high class operation, and most of the passengers were upper-middle class office workers?

Concord Resident August 31, 2014 at 7:55 AM

@chari cole: AMEN, sister

@anon, etc: I actually don’t see ANYONE on this feed proposing workable solutions to for homelessness. God forbid we “liberals” remind you that homeless people are first and foremost PEOPLE. For the record I was once homeless and I even spent a night or two trying to keep warm at the bottom of an SF BART escalator. I am now a pre-med student with a good job. This would NEVER had happened without the help and support of government agencies and advocates who helped me out.

All these yuppies name calling and complaining about the inconvenience of urine and deteriorating bodies… Calm down and himble yourselves for a moment. Your privallege and entitlement is indeed part of the problem.

..... August 31, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Then lets stop talking about “giving” the homeless something and DO something! Ever hear te phrase “give a man a fish….”?

At this rate, we’re “giving” away the store and doing NOTHING to solve the problem. “Going after the 1% ” is a catchy phrase, but it’s strictly a feel-good effort.

This is what you are..... August 31, 2014 at 2:23 PM

I am with those that agree with this decision. I do not think the voters had in mind that BART would house the homeless in mind when they vote for funding. There is a lot of options out there. The amount of shelters would be based on the homeless when they take to the streets and count or take a census. The problem, not all the homeless are easily counted so they are missed. And all those that flock to our cities and find out we are not as tough on homeless. Everyone needs a home but why should it be at the cost of everyone else. I for one would not take public transportation with someone elses feces and urine littered through places i need to walk. I dont know the answer. Mental health, laziness whatever the case i know that in the case of being lazy, these people can make a change. Then maybe the amount of homeless wont be so great. Mental health issues are harder but how do they get in the position of being homeless. They did not start out that way I am sure. Some point in their lives something went wrong. Find out the issue and maybe some of those cases can be helped. There will always be homeless because we are too busy dumping water on our heads. When we decide to take care of a problem that is much greater and affects more people in this country maybe we can put a dent in the problem, a small dent, but it would be something wouldn’t it?

Elwood August 31, 2014 at 3:37 PM

@ concord resident #29

I himbled myself! So where’s my privallege?

.....? September 1, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Tell you what brother …..

How about YOU give us some solutions then? I mean, other than the right wing agenda of licking the 1%’s boots, while pushing for incarceration of anyone that doesn’t fall in line.

Looking forward to your hilariously neo-fascist solution to the problem.

..... September 1, 2014 at 9:33 PM


Looks like the liberals continue to stir the pot by their namecalling…..when they can’t present solutions, they resort to insults.

Real mature, #33. We are so impressed by your astounding grasp of social ills and the methods by which we can all achieve Nirvana.

Gabriel LeBaron September 2, 2014 at 7:48 PM

What they need to do is arrest the homeless people that buy 1.75 tickets, and sleep all day long in the bart cars. I hate bart and would ride amtrak all day long vs bart.

@ Chari Cole September 3, 2014 at 9:04 AM

Yes, during Reagan years is when the law took efffect, however, it was Jimmy Carter who enacted the law

@ .....? September 3, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Due to Jimmy Carter’s legislation, the burden transferred to our local communities. Many churches and people do support helping the homeless, and many are the 1%. Families can no longer commit a family member for mental health help, it is up to the person who is mentally unstable as to what kind of help they want to accept.

In hindsight, this legislation was a major failure by the Democratic party, including the Kennedy family who played a big role in getting this passed.

Maybe you’re more conservative than you think and prefer life before this legislation.

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