Per a press release from BART police regarding "evacuation safety," BART has launched a policy effective today that will no longer permit anyone to lie down or even sit with feet extended in the underground passageways of BART stations, or on station platforms.
Though the move appears clearly to be one that is geared toward decreasing vagrancy and the persistent problem of homeless people and others camped out in Powell Station, particularly in the long passageway toward the eastern end of the station, BART is couching the policy as one that will help meet their "legal obligation to evacuate a station in an emergency from the furthest corners of the platforms in four to six minutes or less."
Anyone found sleeping or lying down in passageways or on platforms will now be cleared out during regular rounds by BART police in order to ensure that "hallways are not blocked [and are] safe [for] speedy evacuation during emergencies." Being seated against a wall with feet extended will also not be allowed, however the language of the release does not address squatting or sitting lotus-style.
BART is invoking section 640(d)(4) of the California Penal Code and Section 22 of San Francisco’s Municipal Police Code, which permits them to remove anyone "blocking the free movement of another person in our San Francisco underground stations by lying down."
"Our primary concern and obligation is the safety of everybody on BART property,” said BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey.
Offenders will first be warned, told to sit up and look alert, and have their names taken down, and a second offense will come with a citation with no fine. Three-time offenders will be subject to fines and/or arrest, and will receive a summons for a court appearance.
Rainey insists that BART Police remain committed to "assist[ing] individuals who need help to get the services they need,” and BART says it is "actively working to find ways to handle the complex situation involving people who seek refuge in downtown San Francisco stations."