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

Jane Warner Plaza awaits its plaque


Dawn Warner looked at the proposed plaque for her wife, Special Patrol Officer Jane Warner, at the dedication ceremony last November. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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Five months after city officials dedicated Jane Warner Plaza, the Castro pedestrian parklet is still awaiting a plaque to inform the public of its proper name.

The outdoor seating area at the corner of 17th and Castro streets was renamed in honor of Warner, a Patrol Special police officer whose beat included the city's gayborhood. Warner died nearly a year ago on May 8 after a battle with ovarian cancer.

An out lesbian and a gifted piano player, Warner was beloved by both the public and the merchants who hired her to provide additional security services in the Castro. A groundswell of support for renaming the 17th Street Pedestrian Plaza in her memory quickly emerged following Warner's death.

With backing from local groups, the Board of Supervisors adopted the renaming proposal last fall. The public dedication ceremony took place Sunday, November 7 on what would have been Warner's 54th birthday.

At the event a mockup of a plaque with a brief explanation of Warner's achievements was unveiled. It was then quietly removed with the expectation that a permanent plaque would be installed.

Recently Warner's friends have been trying to determine when the signage will arrive.

"I don't think it will ever be called Jane Warner Plaza as long as there is no plaque there identifying it as such," said Castro business owner Patrick Batt, a past president of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro. "To me it is very important because it is recognition that she deserves."

According to a press release dated November 17 sent out by the Patrol Special Police Officers Association, the group established the "Officer Jane Warner Memorial Fund" through the San Francisco Police Credit Union for the purpose of raising money to pay for the plaque. But the notice received little attention at the time, and a dispute between the patrol specials and the police department over the program's future has monopolized the association's attention this year.

"We are actively seeking and reminding people to help pay for this thing so we can memorialize Jane Warner the right way," Alan Byard, president of the association, told the Bay Area Reporter this week.

Byard said the plaque is estimated to cost at least $3,000 and, so far, roughly $2,000 has been raised. He said he intended to check with city officials to see what the status is on the plaque's creation.

"I am going to be making inquiries to figure out when exactly it is going to be done," said Byard. "It should be a fitting memorial."

Batt said this week he was unaware of the fundraising drive initiated by the Patrol Special Police Officers Association. He said he had contacted both the current leadership of MUMC and the Castro's Community Benefit District to ask if either was involved with the production of the plaque.

MUMC President Steve Adams told the B.A.R. that the business group never promised to pay for the plaque or offer to ensure its arrival.

"It is my understanding it is under the CBD. We are not part of the plaza; it was a CBD project to begin with," said Adams. "I don't know anything about the plaque."

Andrea Aiello, the CBD's executive director, said this week her organization was not responsible for it and that it was her belief that former District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty was overseeing the fundraising effort.

"My understanding is that Supervisor Dufty was going to privately fundraise for it," she said.

Dufty championed the naming of the plaza after Warner in his capacity as supervisor and handled the creation of the plaque mockup for the ceremony last fall. But he said it was always his understanding that the Patrol Special Police Officers Association would be responsible for paying for the actual plaque.

After being contacted about its status by the B.A.R. this week, Dufty called Byard and offered his help with completing the fundraising and pledged his own donation.

"I called him and told him, 'I am responsible. I should have reached out to you and done some things.' I appreciate the patrol specials for keeping the focus on it," said Dufty, who is now a mayoral candidate. "Certainly, people want to see the plaque go up."

The hope is a permanent plaque will be installed sometime before Pride weekend in June.

Anyone wishing to donate to the fund can drop off donations to the credit union branch located at 2550 Irving Street. They can also be mailed to the SF Police Credit Union, P.O. Box 22219, San Francisco, California 94122-0219.

Checks should be made payable to the "Officer Jane Warner Memorial Fund."

Full disclosure: Warner was a contributing columnist for the B.A.R. and penned the paper's crime column. Matthew S. Bajko wrote the text for the plaque mockup.

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