(SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE) — When he was mayor, Gavin Newsom made stopping panhandling at freeway ramps a priority, noting that the ramps – especially the ramps near the intersection of Fifth and Bryant streets – were often tourists’ first introduction to San Francisco.

That problem isn’t as high up on Mayor Ed Lee’s list, and police officials acknowledge that the panhandling on medians and freeway on-ramps is a thriving industry.

For 11 years, city law has stated it is illegal to beg for money within 500 feet of a freeway ramp. Yet panhandlers stroll among lanes of stopped traffic without serious legal consequences.

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