Jane Warner Plaza, the small plaza that began as a temporary parklet in 2009 after the city closed off the intersection where 17th Street meets Market and Castro, is drawing negative attention from residents again as there have been more reports of bad behavior by groups of homeless youth who congregate there. The plaza was the frequent gathering spot, on sunny days, for local nudists back in 2011-2012 until Supervisor Scott Wiener's nudity ban effectively ended that (though a stalwart few still make appearances wearing tiny loincloths on warm days). Now Wiener is again fielding dozens of complaints and hosting a community meeting to discuss the situation on Monday, February 2.
Wiener tells the Bay Area Reporter, "We have been leaning on the police," but he admits there's probably more that could be done. "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." He adds, "The people who’ve been damaging the plaza and acting in an anti-social manner need to leave."
The Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District and its executive director Andrea Aiello have been waging a battle to evict the homeless youth in the area for over two years now. As SFist reported in 2013, the battle began with the removal of benches that had lined a concrete wall in Harvey Milk Plaza across the street, above the Castro Muni Station. That move was meant to discourage loitering and sleeping, however the loiterers mostly just moved across the street to Jane Warner Plaza, where there are chairs and other seating.
Aiello complains that recent improvements by the Department of Public Works have only made matters worse. "They built a bulb-out around the planter by the Chevron Station which effectively raised the ‘floor’ around the planter, thus lowering the height of the planter,” she says. “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."
Anecdotally, some residents connected the increased number of homeless youth in the neighborhood with enforcement of the Sit-Lie ban that began three years ago, relocating some of this population off of Haight Street to locations where they could gather un-harassed.
Monday's meeting will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center youth space, at 100 Collingwood Street.