In one of the more notable quality-of-life citations issued by police to people for violating civic codes in public spaces, a man was charged earlier this month with eating pizza at a bus stop near the intersection of Market and 7th Streets.
Kelley Cutler, an organizer for the Coalition on Homelessness, tweeted a picture of the citation Friday afternoon, saying the man—a senior citizen—came to the Coalition for help defending himself from the citation. Cutler would not say if the man was homeless, but acknowledged that the Coalition works exclusively with clients who rely on public assistance.
"We see quality-of-life tickets on a regular basis, but citing someone for eating at a bus stop was unusual," she said.
Cutler said she wasn't certain what the fee was for this particular citation, but said noted that quality-of-life citations usually clock in around $100. Her client was cited for 640 (b)(1), "eating or drinking in or on a system facility or vehicle in areas where those activities are prohibited by that system."
According to the law, first-time offenders could pay a fine up to $250 and be required to do up to 48 hours of community service over 30 days.
"We have a process for poor or homeless folks where it won't cost anything, because the judge will normally dismiss it if they show they are accessing social services," she said.
Nullifying these types of citations isn't unusual—last year, an SF Superior Court judge nullified around 65,000 outstanding warrants for no-show offenders—but it's still costly.
Each citation defense, Cutler said, takes around 20 hours of advocates' time.
"Taking care of the citation requires jumping through a bunch of hoops, and that takes a lot of time," she said. "That's the punishment, basically. It's ridiculous."
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