We showed up to oppose the “chop shop” ordinance, introduced earlier this year. This bill authorizes the arbitrary confiscation of property from our most vulnerable citizens, those living on the city streets, and does nothing to stem bike theft.

The bill continues to target individuals rather than organized operations, and create an opaque bureaucracy with no real due process. Shifting the enforcement of this law from SFPD to DPW does nothing more than change the uniforms of the City employees conducting unconstitutional seizures; it does nothing to change the fundamental unfairness and cruelty of this bill. It allows the DPW to act as judge and jury of citizens’ claims to the property they possess and maintain. It creates a storage and paperwork nightmare for the already overworked department. It is a civil asset forfeiture bill that will subject our citizens to unwarranted, unconstitutional seizures.

Many San Francisco citizens, homeless or otherwise, depend on bicycles for transportation and the conduct of their work. Their use of public space to repair their vehicles infringes upon no other citizens’ rights. This ordinance would create a framework for arbitrary enforcement of a law for the convenience of the DPW, at the expense of people who are already subject to routine harassment, dispossession, and administrative citation.

The existence of illegal bicycle sales operations is not in dispute, with thousands of bicycles reported stolen in San Francisco annually. However, the city already has the means to address illegal bicycle trafficking, including the SAFE Bike serial number registry and laws prohibiting semi-permanent operations blocking public spaces.

This ordinance will have little impact on bike theft but will serve as another tool of abuse against the poorest among us. It will deepen the class divides in a city already riven by inequality and a profound housing and transportation crisis.