Community Meeting On Jane Warner Plaza Safety Challenges

Castro Community On Patrol (CCOP) participated in the recent Castro Community Benefits District (CBD) meeting to discuss on-going safety challenges with the Jane Warner Plaza space at the corner of Castro Street,  17th Street and Market Street.

The very well attended meeting saw Captain Daniel Perea of Mission Police Station and Supervisor Scott Wiener provide their thoughts on the Plaza and what may need to be done to make it safer and more accessible to a greater number of people than currently use it.

CBD JWP Meeting 2015-02-02  Cpt. Perea and Supervisor Wiener

 

Captain Perea provided a brief overview of the current laws applicable to the Plaza, namely:

  • No sleeping within the Plaza
  • No lying down on the ground within the Plaza (sitting is permitted)
  • No smoking within the Plaza of any kind (including e-cigarettes and marijuana with or without a medical marijuana card)
  • No camping within the Plaza
  • No open containers within the Plaza
  • No off-leash animals of any kind (including service animals)
  • No amplified sound without an appropriate permit

Captain Perea encouraged everyone to call the SFPD Non-Emergency number 415-533-0123 to report any breaches of the Plaza laws that are not an “emergency” in nature, and to use the 911 number of any emergency situations.  Sometimes Police will need the original reporter to sign a Citizens Arrest form in order to detain and remove individuals for crimes not committed in the presence of the Officer, so we encourage you to to so whenever possible, as the more times an individual is arrested and charged, the more likely the community can obtain a “stay away” order excluding them from the neighborhood for a long period of time by order of the court.

Supervisor Wiener noted that the primary concern in the Plaza is truly anti-social and dis-courteous behavior towards residents and guests to the Castro.  He cautioned against targeting particular “groups” of individuals such as the “homeless” as many of the people who do live on the streets within the neighborhood are simply trying to survive and do not act inappropriately.  There are a few individuals, well known to many, who repeatedly cause problems. They may, or may not, have a permanent residence and that is not the primary concern.

CBD JWP Meeting 2015-02-02 Audience

Supervisor Wiener and Andrea Aiello of the Community Benefits District advised that the Plaza will undergo some additional modifications to help prevent people from sitting on the concrete planters, and to discourage individuals from allowing their animals to use the planters as toilets etc.  The Plaza surface will also be re-done during this period.  As the Plaza will be closed for around a month during this work, the hope is that some of the problems may move on to greener pastures outside of the Castro.   During group discussions, a number of people came up with ideas to further “activate” the Plaza through performance art, music, non-profit community group involvement and other ideas.  These will be considered and hopefully implemented as the Plaza re-opens.

Andrea Aiello also discussed the Castro Cares project which will officially launch in February or March. This project provides additional law enforcement and homeless outreach resources specifically targeted to the neighborhood.  Supervisor Wiener has secured $100k in funding to support the program over two years, and the community will hopefully donate the remaining $200k required to fully fund it.  The project soft launched in December during the busy holiday shopping season and proved to be highly successful.

In our opinion, there is no single “magic cure” for the challenges at Jane Warner Plaza, and around the neighborhood in general.  What is needed is truly a multi-tiered and multi-faceted approach with every resident, business owner, community organization and city agency all working collaboratively to help mitigate and resolve the many problems faced over time.  The one thing we have observed in the eight years CCOP has served the community, is that as soon as you begin to resolve one challenge, another crops up requiring a solution, so this is not going to be a “quick fix and we’re done” situation. Rather it will be an on-going discussion.

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