The anti-panhandling law San Francisco voters passed last November takes effect today, but don't expect a big change on the streets -- yet.
The city intends to enforce the new law gently, using it not so much as a police tool as an opportunity to persuade homeless people to trade in their panhandling cups and signs for spots in emergency shelters or counseling programs.
Instead of getting hustled off to jail by squads of cops when they're caught near ATMs or in traffic lanes -- prohibited spots under the law -- panhandlers are more likely to get visits from social workers. Police officers will warn panhandlers verbally about the law and will issue citations if they become belligerently persistent, but that's not the main thrust of the city's plan.
Does anyone believe that asking panhandlers to go away and maybe issuing them a citation - "if they become belligerently persistent" - accomplishes anything?