Sunday, June 07, 2015

Plaza 16 Doesn't Give a Crap About BART's New Toilet

In April, I needed to use a restroom at the 16th Street BART Plaza and the kiosk toilet was out of order, reminding how lack of toilet access at the hub created health hazards for all users of the public space. I contacted BART and SF Department of Public Works officials and nudged them to being operating a Pit Stop mobile toilet at this location.

I quickly learned both agencies were soon implementing a Pit Stop program here and was delighted the government folks responsible for the hub were taking another step to clean up the plaza for better public hygiene. Last summer, I succeeded in getting DPW and SF MTA to more often power clean the surfaces of the plaza and the Department of Public Health very quickly, after I complained, installed pigeon spikes in more spots to keep the birds from roosting and pooping on people and handrails.

This past week, I asked Rachel Gordon, communications director for DPW, what was happening with the Pit Stop plan and she said:

We are still planning to move forward with BART on operating a portable Pit Stop nearby – final location TBD. We’re hoping that will open soon. Still working on agreement.

Meanwhile, we opened a Pit Stop at the existing JCDecaux. I just got the numbers today and the results look good. Prior to the Pit Stop model, that toilet had an average of 27 uses a day.

Since then, the number has ranged from a low of 49 uses a day to a high of 105. Many days in the 70s and 80s. Big difference. It shows that people are more comfortable to use that JCDecaux toilet at 16th and Mission if it’s staffed.

For me, cleaning up the plaza has always equaled from a public health perspective not one about displacing any users of the hub and I've never seen or heard evidence of the Plaza 16 group lifting a finger to address improving the plazas for all users.

The group is called Plaza 16 but they don't give a crap about the filth and fire menaces of dry papers and trash in the hot sun at the BART entrance near Walgreens. Their only agenda is stopping the Maximus Partners from opening a luxury condo and shopping complex where Walgreens now operates.

On that matter, Plaza 16 last said a peep about Maximus Partners in March.

Plaza 16 leaders are not concerned with improving the BART plaza in any way because they fear that would somehow make the area more desirable to developers and lead to more disfigurement of the Mission. Frankly, if there were effective community organizers running the Plaza 16 show they would be able to focus on Maximus Partners _and_ changing the hazardous hygienic standards at the hub.

Well, piss on Plaza 16 leaders! DPW and BART officials have dealt with controlling pigeon poop, more water-washing of the surfaces, the toilet kiosk is now a Pit Stop and staffed weekdays and there's a drop-box for used syringes and dog waste, and soon signage aiding handicapped folks and locals and travelers in need of the elevator will be up because of my ADA complaint.

I've done more advocating directing with BART, DPW, DPH and SF MTA in the past year and delivering tangible improvements than Plaza 16 leaders. Check out my photos of the expanded toilet access at the BART hub at 16th and Mission:

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