The Chop Shop legislation is on the agenda for the 7/18 Board of Supervisors meeting @ 2 pm @ City Hall room 250. We need to get folks to turn out to speak out against this legislation that targets people experiencing homelessness.
Policy Analysis “Open-Air” Chop Shop Ordinance (Sheehy)
Key Elements of Legislation
This is an ordinance that would amend the Police Code to prohibit the taking apart or rebuilding of bikes, having bike parts, or selling bike parts in public spaces, and allows citations, impound fees, and the seizure of those parts.
• This piece of legislation defines a chop shop, as an open air location wherein bicycles are disassembled, stripped of identification and/or sold.
• The ordinance bans these activities when an individual has 5 or more bicycles, 3 bikes with missing parts, one frame with cut cables, or five or more bicycle components found on public property, street, sidewalk, or right of way.
• This prohibition does not apply to vendors operating under a valid business license or in cases in which the owners of the bicycles or bicycles components is present for repairs (ownership undefined).
• This prohibition does not apply to those offering items to be sold on their own property.
• Individuals in violation will get an administrative citation and may get their bike parts returned after seizure by showing proof of ownership, such as receipt, serial number, photographs or signing an affidavit.
• Ordinance allows appeal of citation and impound fees by having a hearing within 30 days with another police officer – person must file appeal, and date of hearing will be sent by mail.
Analysis of Impact:
We believe that this ordinance, if made law, will unfairly target the unhoused community – assuming that if they have bicycles or bicycle parts, there very impoverished status assumed that those parts are stolen. Unhoused people are incapable of meeting many of the exemptions from this ordinance, entirely because of the nature of their economic status. By definition, people who are homeless do not have homes in which they can legally sell their property.
This is a question of public space and who--and how--people can use it. Many avid housed and unhoused bicyclists own multiple bicycles that can be used for varying leisure and practical purposes. Avid cyclists collect accessories to decorate and improve their property. We believe that this ordinance will violate unhoused peoples’ rights as private citizens, simply because they are destitute.
Unhoused communities reside on the fringes of our society, and they must be resourceful in order to survive. It is very common for unhoused people to trade and sell skills and items. Individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit offer their skills to other people, inadvertently making themselves targets for this ordinance.
This statue categorically authorizes the police to impound property without justification for the impoundment. California law presumes that a person who possesses an item is its rightful owner. Unless the police have probable cause to think bike items are stolen, they shouldn’t be impounding them. This ordinance violates the 4th Amendment under People v. Williams, 145 Cal. App. 4th 756, 762 (2006) and Miranda v. City of Cornelius, 429 F.3d 858 (9th Cir. 2005).
The loss of property is a daily issue for unhoused people, photos, documents and identification are constantly lost in the churn between the streets, service providers and state agencies. It is unreasonable to expect unhoused people to maintain receipts or serial numbers of past purchases. In addition, homeless people often receive donations, find scrap parts in various locations, and buy used parts. Therefore, we feel that it is very likely that homeless people will be unjustly cited, burdened with impound fees, and have to go through an arduous process of regaining their rightful property.
Many unhoused people participate in vending recycled goods as a means of earning extra income, even their entire income in some cases. We believe that this ordinance will target lower-income recycled bicycle vendors and further infringe upon the rights of poor people.
The appeal process would be impossible for many street campers to engage successfully, as it requires maintenance of paperwork, insertion of paperwork, receipt of a date by mail, all very difficult for unhoused individuals to navigate. This will result in rightful but impoverished owners hampered with unpaid debt, which negatively impacts future employment among other things.
Homeless people often suffer from disabilities, including mental health issues, that impact their functioning, and would make it an unfair hardship for the same rightful owners to regain their property. Travel, access to information, inability to carry belongings, all create significant barriers to regaining rightful property.
The upsurge in bike theft is a complex issue, which involves organized, disparate criminal elements. While stolen bikes may present within a given encampment of unhoused people, it is a drop in the bucket of organized crime and would unfairly target all homeless people who engage in recycled bike repair work without reducing theft.
In many cases, bicycles are unhoused person’s only means of transportation, causing hardship with confiscation.
In sum, this legislation will not address bike theft, is a misguided attempt to pander to frustration with the housing crisis, and is based on a prejudicial premise that all those who live outdoors and own multiple bikes and/or parts must have stolen that property.