Friday, February 06, 2015

Castro Plaza's Temporary Closure Starts in Late February

The latest cosmetic changes to the public spaces of the Castro have not decreased the number of homeless folks nor their incidents of abusive behavior in Jane Warner Plaza, and another in a long-series of urgent community meetings was held on February 2 to discuss the situation.

Convened by Andrea Aiello, executive director of the Castro Benefit District, it featured Sup. Wiener and the Mission police station's captain as the main speakers. I wasn't present and am grateful Aiello's posted a three-page report back to the community.

The report is not posted on the CBD site. For a copy send your request to: execdirector@castrocbd.orgHere are some highlights:

- The Department of Public Works is again going to temporarily close Jane Warner Plaza for "minor improvements to the plaza including putting down new coating on the pavement"

- Closure should start the end of February and allegedly will last for two months

- The CBD will again solicit community input about activating the plaza with "positive activities"

- At the end of the latest DPW modification period, the Castro Cares outreach and engagement project targeting the homeless and mentally ill, will be more fully implemented

- A suggestion was made "to create metrics with deadlines" to measure progress and if actions fail to make the plaza safer and inviting to all, then return the space back to vehicular traffic and remove the park

Solutions other than enhanced enforcement from the Mission station included a few startling ideas for the problematic plaza at 17th and Castro Streets:

- Schedule a movie night

- Hold exercise classses

- Move the rainbow flag from Harvey Milk Plaza to Jane Warner Plaza

- Request tour groups to assemble near the street care turnaround instead of under the rainbow flag

It's anyone's guess if and how any of the proposals and concerns expressed at the Feb. 2 forum will bring about a balance of activities in Jane Warner Plaza, a reduction of bad behavior, fewer homeless folks and their dogs, and renew a sense of ownership of the plaza and the Castro from LGBT people who either avoid the area or rarely venture into the gayborhood.

The best thing I can say about the plaza is at least DPW hasn't reinstalled the obtrusive news rack on 17th Street near the Twin Peaks bar. That piece of ugly street furniture always was a hindrance to wheelchair users and public safety.

No comments: