Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Meeting on ‘bad behavior’ at Jane Warner Plaza set

Chocolate-colored asphalt is one of the main elements in the renovated Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

Chocolate-colored asphalt is one of the main elements in the renovated Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

A meeting to discuss “bad behavior” at Jane Warner Plaza in San Francisco’s Castro district is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, February 2, Andrea Aiello, executive director of the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit, said today (Thursday, January 29).

In an email, Aiello said conditions at the plaza, which is at Castro and Market streets, have “really deteriorated lately.”

“We have been leaning on the police,” District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, and the Department of Public Works, and Monday’s meeting is “to discuss what should be done. There are lots of ideas and suggestions,” she said.

Since the beginning of the year, Aiello said, there’s “generally” been “really bad behavior” at the parklet, which was created several years ago after the city closed off access to part of 17th Street at Castro and Market, Aiello said.

DPW has recently made some improvements, including new asphalt, but some of those changes “have made the plaza too open to abuse,” Aiello said.

“They built a bulb out around the planter by the Chevron Station” next to the plaza, “which effectively raised the ‘floor’ around the planter, thus lowering the height of the planter,” she said. “Now it is totally being abused, people are sleeping in the planter, having their dogs and cats sleep, pee and poop in the planters. … There is really bad behavior from the people who sit there all day long, calling people faggot, fighting with each other, and they litter like crazy, drinking in public whenever they can get away with it. They do not clean up after themselves, when they leave in the evening the plaza is a filthy disaster, taking up multiple chairs with all their stuff so no one else can sit, sleeping during the day across three or more chairs.”

In an email, Wiener said, “The situation at Jane Warner has gotten totally out of control and is unacceptable. A small group of people is ruining the plaza – both physically and in terms of other people’s ability to enjoy this neighborhood open space. The plaza is for everyone, and when one group of people starts damaging it, committing violent acts, and being anti-social, it’s not OK. The people who’ve been damaging the plaza and acting in an anti-social manner need to leave. The plaza isn’t for them as long as they’re behaving that way.”

Wiener said he’s been “working closely” with Mission station police, who have “significantly stepped up their attention to the plaza.” However, he said, “significant challenges remain, and there are limits to what the police can do.”

The full launch of the Castro Cares initiative, which has brought more outreach work and police presence to the area, is coming “in the near future,” and Wiener, who’s gotten funding for the project, believes it and other efforts “will have a positive impact.”

A revamp of the plaza’s landscaping is also planned so that it’s “harder to sit on it and thus damage it,” among other changes, he said.

“This work will necessitate a temporary closure of the plaza and removal of the tables and chairs. This will be a much-needed pause for the plaza. It will give us time to calm things down, get Castro Cares fully in gear, continue to strategize with the police, increase our activation of the plaza, and consider legislation to adopt additional rules for the plaza,” Wiener said.

The new rules could include “making it illegal for people, animals, or anything else to be on top of the landscaping,” he said.

“Jane Warner Plaza is the only plaza in the Castro,” Wiener said. “It serves an important purpose, and many people rely on it. We need it to succeed, and we will make it work.”

A DPW spokeswoman wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The meeting will be at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center youth space, 100 Collingwood Street. Aiello said Wiener and Mission police station Captain Dan Perea will be among those attending. All the benefit district’s meetings are open to the public.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, January 29, 2015 @ 4:44 pm PST
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