Plaza politics bring new regulations to Castro 

New regulations will prohibit smoking as well as hanging out at two Castro plazas after 9p.m. - MIKE KOOZMIN/SPECIAL TO SF EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/Special to SF Examiner
  • New regulations will prohibit smoking as well as hanging out at two Castro plazas after 9p.m.

Before deciding to enjoy the Castro neighborhood’s popular plazas better check the rule book.

The Board of Supervisors approved in a 6-5 vote Tuesday regulations for use of the Harvey Milk Plaza and the Jane Warner Plaza, which previously were not covered by city laws.

It is now illegal to camp and, during certain hours, sleep in these public spaces. There is now no smoking and no selling of merchandise without a city permit.

The initial proposal introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the neighborhood, drew strong opposition from homeless advocates and the American Civic Liberties Union. Changes were made to mollify their opposition. An all-hour ban on sleeping was scaled back to mirror the park code, which prohibits sleeping during the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. A provision that would have banned shopping carts in the public spaces was also eliminated Tuesday.

“It’s not just about the condo owners next door who don’t like certain things happening there,” Wiener said. He said the proposal is backed by many in the community and it’s about making the public space “welcoming, and available and accessible spaces for everyone.”

The board’s core progressive were not sold. Christina Olague said she worried about the impacts the regulations would have on homeless LGBT youth. “Many of them go to the Harvey Milk Plaza where they are able to feel safe,” Olague said.

Supervisor John Avalos said the proposal was misguided. “I tend to want to support people who I feel are more vulnerable and I am going to be siding with them on this,” Avalos said.

After learning of the new rules, Martha Asten, owner of Cliff’s Variety, a Castro hardware store, suggested the restrictions would just cause the bad behavior to relocate. “Until we get to the heart of the matter of what creates the problem, legislating behavior doesn’t fix the problem,” Asten said.


How They Voted
A “yes” vote supported the new regulations of the Harvey Milk Plaza and Jane Warner Plaza
A “no” voted opposed them the new regulations

District 1   Supervisor Eric Mar                     NO
District 2   Supervisor Mark Farrell            YES
District 3   Supervisor David Chiu                YES
District 4   Supervisor Carmen Chu             YES
District 5   Supervisor Christina Olague     NO
District 6   Supervisor Jane Kim                    NO
District 7   Supervisor Sean Elsbernd         YES
District 8   Supervisor Scott Wiener            YES
District 9   Supervisor David Campos         NO
District 10  Supervisor Malia Cohen           YES
District 11  Supervisor John Avalos            NO

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