Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Milk Plaza Pigeon Poop Returns;
People With AIDS Face Health Risk

 (Newly refurbished news rack at Castro and Market Street this afternoon, shows newly dropped bird crap on top.)

Last week, I complained to the Department of Public Health and the Department of Public Works about health hazard posed by bird droppings on a large (and useless) news rack and sidewalk at an always-crowded section of Harvey Milk Plaza. Swift action ensued, with DPH inspecting and confirming the problem, posting signs discouraging feeding of pigeons, and DPW steam cleaning the news rack and plaza.

I want to prevent the birds from resting and defecating and pushed Richard Lee, environmental health expert at DPH, to lead the effort to place spike on the cables and lamp post where the birds rest. His reply:

In regards to the Dept. of Public Health, we would get involved in installing spikes or other pigeon proofing only if we deemed the pigeon droppings a public health nuisance and we were able to identify a responsible party to perform the pigeon proofing. At this point, we would like to observe the effectiveness of the newly mounted signs to see if it reduces the pigeon droppings before we take any enforcement action. Of course, the PUC and any other agency or business could install pigeon proofing on their own volition. 

Since I also complained to community liaison Jana Lord at Clear Channel, which owns and maintains the news rack cluttering up the plaza and which is main repository of the droppings. My suggestion was to paint over the encrusted droppings, and yesterday she sen this note:

I had the news rack re-furbished last week.  Have you seen it?

Today, I went to the plaza and saw that the cosmetic, yet welcomed, attempt last week to clean up the droppings have not solved the problem of birds resting and pooping from cables and the lamp post. Yes, the news rack is refurbished . . . and again befouled with pigeon poop.

The signs from DPH has been removed, but I didn't see any crumbs or seeds for the birds to eat. Actually, I've never seen anyone feed the pigeons at Milk Plaza. So, we're back to square one and a public health risk for people with AIDS and others still exists in the heart of the Castro. 

While DPH continues to observe the situation, and the health hazards from the disease-ridden poop remains on the top of the news rack and nearby sidewalk continue to pose a risk.

One thing I can't understand is how the poop hazard didn't cause anyone that I know of to complain about it until I made an issue of it last week. You would think Supervisor Scott Wiener, who's said he wants to revitalize the plaza, and all members of the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro, who likewise want to bring vibrancy to the plaza, would have addressed this matter already.

I am again asking all concerned parties - DPH, DPW, Clear Channel, the Castro Benefit District, Wiener and his staff, MUMC, SF Municipal Transportation Agency - to rid Harvey Milk Plaza of pigeon poop by immediately installing spikes where necessary to stop birds from resting on lamp posts.

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