Online extra: Wiener scores four victories, faces fight over Castro plaza rules
by Matthew S. Bajko
District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener scored four legislative victories this week, as the Board of Supervisors passed a quartet of measures the gay lawmaker drafted. But a battle is brewing over his proposed rules for the Castro's public plazas.
And detractors of the moderate supervisor continue to mull a possible recall against him.
In a show of public support for Wiener, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) this week joined him on a tour of the 24th Street business corridor in Noe Valley.
Wiener posted a picture of the two Democratic politicians to his Facebook page after they had visited Mike Stanton of Peek A Boutique. Debra Niemann, director of the Noe Valley Association, joined them on their walk.
The merchant walk Wednesday, January 11 came a day after the board adopted Wiener's four legislative proposals. The legislation includes rules for city dog walkers – they must now get permits and are limited to having eight dogs on leash – and a controversial land deal to create a new park.
Housing rights advocates have decried the property deal for it deprived the city money it would have gained from selling the land that could have then paid for constructing affordable rental units.
Instead, nearby neighbors now plan to create a community garden and terraced open space on the sloping lot. It has been designated the Corbett Heights Neighborhood Park.
Also passed this week is a prevailing wage ordinance, expected to benefit janitors, and the creation of a sentencing commission. The temporary panel will be composed of various criminal justice agencies, nonprofits, and the Superior Court.
It is tasked with formulating sentencing guidelines as the county oversees more prisoners due to the state's new realignment policy. The goal is to cut down on costs while protecting public safety as more criminals are housed in local, rather than state, prisons.
"These proposals result from a lot of hard work and input from neighborhood groups, public officials, union representatives, and advocacy groups," stated Wiener. "They show how productive we can be when we all get together to focus on solving the city's problems."
A lack of agreement, though, has met Wiener's proposed rules for Harvey Milk and Jane Warner plazas in the heart of the city's LGBT district. As the Bay Area Reporter reported last month, smoking and camping would be banned at the two outdoor spaces and set hours for sitting on movable benches and chairs would be imposed under the new rules. (See story http://ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=6270.)
The board's land use committee is expected to take up the regulations at is Monday, January 23 meeting. A host of progressive groups have banded together to fight the rules, which were the focus of a roving protest through the Castro in early December.
The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club voted to officially oppose them. And a petition aimed at urging Supervisors Malia Cohen and Eric Mar, who sit on the land use committee along with Wiener, to reject the rules has been posted to the website change.org (https://www.change.org/petitions/san-francisco-supervisors-malia-cohen-and-eric-mar-reject-restrictions-on-public-plazas-in-san-franciscos-castro-neighborhood).
As of Friday (January 13) morning only 37 people had signed it. It claims the rules will be used to keep homeless people out of the plazas and criticizes Wiener for not holding any community forums prior to introducing the legislation at City Hall.
"As it stands now, the legislation is an attack on one particular population that uses the two plazas: the homeless or those perceived to be homeless, including queer youth who make up 40 percent of the city's homeless youth population," states a letter posted to the site people can send the two supervisors.
Both the petition and several people who signed it state the rules go against the beliefs held both by Milk, the city's first openly gay supervisor, and Warner, a lesbian patrol special whose beat included the Castro.
"Jane Warner would help those homeless kids and folks rather than restrict where they could be. I know because I watched her do it time after time over the years," wrote petition signer Kai Rogue.
Wiener has said he introduced the legislation on behalf of the Castro Community Benefit District. They are merely meant to formalize which city rules apply to the plazas, he argues.
"This legislation isn't about closing the plazas," he told the B.A.R. in an interview last month. "My goal with this legislation is to address some of the behavior issues we have seen and make the plazas useable by everyone."
The land use committee is expected to take up the matter when it meets at 1 p.m. January 23 inside Room 263 at City Hall.