Friday, June 13, 2014

BART's 16th Plazas Must be Cleansed of Health Menace

For more than a year, there's been an attempt by the Maximus Partners Real Estate Corporation to gentrify the two public BART plazas at 16th and Mission Streets and the prime focus has been to displace the homeless and low income folks who hang out there. Maximus Parnters created a faux community organization, Clean Up the Plaza, that lacked genuine grassroots and local support.

The real goal of Maximus Partners is to clean the plazas of people they find undesirable to their development schemes. What I am addressing here is a radically different sort of cleansing, one that is about the dirty and unhealthy surfaces of the plazas that jeopardize the health of everyone who is a stakeholder and user of the area, especially the south BART entrance, near the Walgreen's store.

I ask the SF Weakly and others to not distort my goals with BART to in any way support the economic cleansing being pushed by Maximus Partners and Clean Up the Plaza. By the way, tomorrow, Saturday, June 14, from noon till 4 pm the Plaza 16 Coalition, an authentic community-based and grassroots-driven association, is holding festival at the plazas and good time is promised. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood.

The following has been sent to various BART leaders responsible for the plazas cleanliness along with politicians who represent the area:
TO: Linda Vasquez, BART Line Manager; Julie Yim, BART Operations Dept.; Tom Radulovich, BART Board Member; Sup. David Campos; Assemblyman Tom Ammiano; Sen. Mark Leno
Dear BART Leaders and Elected Officials, 
As a person living with AIDS and frequent user of both BART Plazas at 16th and Mission Streets, I am appalled at the filthy state of the plazas and risks posed to the health of all persons who use them due to the apparent lack of regular washing of the many surfaces in the plazas. 
The above photos are from the BART entrance in the southern plaza close to Walgreen's. As you can plainly see, the metal and cement sections close to the handrails of the escalator are splattered with pigeon droppings that pose dire health menaces to people living with HIV, infants and children, asthma suffers and individuals who are immune compromised. 
Several parts of the sculptures on the entrance walls lack spikes and the pigeons have made themselves places to nest and defecate.
These three images show the trash on the left of the escalator that been's accumulating for months, hardened pigeon feces on and beneath the security camera near the elevator and a wall sculpture littered with garbage stuck in the pigeon spikes. None of this filth developed overnight and believe it's a dereliction of your duties as a BART leader or elected official, to make sure the plazas and the entrances to the trains are regularly inspected and consistently cleansed.
The pigeon spikes on top of the light poles at the southern plaza are no longer in place, as across Mission Street, making the fixtures prime locations for roosting and pooping. At the northern plaza stretching from the public toilet kiosk past the Muni bus shelter and on to the Mission Street cross walk, the disease infested pigeon fecal matter is so rampant sections of the red-stripe no parking curb is almost white.  
This deplorable and unhygienic situation is nothing new for our plazas, and here are several suggestions I ask you to immediately implement: 
1. Identify who is responsible for maintaining clean plazas and regular steam washing of all surfaces, 
2. Begin consistent cleansing of all surfaces at the plazas in the overnight hours when the fewest number of persons are present, 
3. Remove all trash stuck in pigeon spikes and on the areas next to the stairs and escalators, 
4. Replace pigeon spikes on all appropriate areas and install new spikes on locations in my photos, 
5. Post signs in English and Spanish with instructions not to feed the pigeons as part of better public health for all persons, 
6. Near the station manager's booth or the information racks with BART flyers, erect a pole for updates about when the plazas and station are inspected for cleanliness and when the last steam washing took place.  
The current disgusting conditions of the plazas require your prompt attention and action to remedy the health risks from the various forms of filth. 
A response from you is requested early next week. 
Best regards,
Michael Petrelis
Candidate for District 8 Supervisor

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