Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Milk Plaza Plans Move Forward; Still No Public SF MTA Meetings

Since I heard nothing from the SF Municipal Transportation Agency after I wrote my post in late June about the major revamp of Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro, a public space of deep and long concern to me, I reached out last week to spokesman Paul Rose for the latest info about community meetings.

Sorry to report there have been none. Rose writes:

"Up to now we have been meeting with [Supervisor Wiener's] office and leadership of the Castro Merchants Assoc and the Castro CBD. The team met with the Streets & Landscaping subcommittee of the Castro Merchants Assoc. and the Harvey Milk Plaza Improvement group in July. We are meeting with the full membership of the Castro Merchants Assoc this coming Thursday morning [August 4]. Full community meetings open to the general public will be scheduled for late August/early September."

Translation? A lot of decisions are being made behind closed doors and lack any public scrutiny. I have no issue with SF MTA officials holding a meeting or two to discuss basics with a few stakeholders, but it's clear several meetings have occurred with Wiener, two private civic group, and new organization I've never heard of called the Harvey Milk Improvement Group.

Spokesman Rose shares no details about that group or when the first public meeting about this public plaza, being redesigned with a lot of public dollars, will take place.

Can you say the system on the hyper-local level is rigged? I can and will say this about the Milk Plaza project. It's not open government when we have no idea how many meetings have already happened, who's attended, what's been discussed and agreed to, and is no way to engage the public for community buy-in.

As I've noted over the years, the Castro Merchants does not allow public participation at their meetings and Wiener is loathe to hold any public forums about the plaza and the rainbow flagpole and control of it.

The SF MTA has established a web page for the Milk Plaza effort where the planners state things are in the conceptual phase. Too bad the public has not been allowed any input up to this point and the community should be engaged, beyond a web page, at this initial phase.

My fear is that when the SF MTA and its partners finally get around to a public forum, many aspects of the project will be presented as a done deal. This no way to engage all stakeholders about this vital piece of public queer space.

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