Reject legislation restricting use of Harvey Milk and Jane Warner plazas
  • Petitioned San Francisco Board of Supervisors

This petition was delivered to:

San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Reject legislation restricting use of Harvey Milk and Jane Warner plazas

    1. Petition by

      Tommi Avicolli Mecca

      SF, CA

Public space should be for everyone, including those who are homeless. This legislation targets the homeless or those perceived to be homeless. It does not offer them housing or jobs or services, only fines, which, if not paid, turn into bench warrants and possibly jail time. That "criminal record" creates a hurdle to their getting into housing later on. So the legislation keeps people homeless.

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    1. Reached 100 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • David Pini SAN FRANCISCO, CA
      • over 2 years ago

      I know that the Castro is the safest neighborhood for these kids to sleep in. You only have to go a few blocks away and they are far more likely to b assaulted, robbed and raped. They go there because they feel safe. Isn't it it horrible enough that we throw kids on the street like trash?

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    • Heidi Beck COLUMBUS, OH
      • over 2 years ago

      because Wiener insults the legacy that Harvey Milk built

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    • Jane Martin SAN FRANCISCO, CA
      • over 2 years ago

      We can find better solutions than criminalizing the homeless. The Castro should be a refuge for homeless queer youth (and others).

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    • Polly Taylor SAN FRANCISCO, CA
      • over 2 years ago

      Restricting public spaces is one more way of reducing democratic participation in the affairs of our city and country.

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    • Gary Virginia SAN FRANCISCO, CA
      • over 2 years ago

      Community Meetings Challenge to Supervisor Scott Wiener

      by Gary Virginia

      I see a continuing problem with local politics in District 8 (Castro, Noe Valley, Glen Park.) Supervisor Scott Wiener is following closely in the footsteps of his predecessor by not hosting community meetings but claiming he “has worked with stake holders” when voting and acting on issues of concern to all constituents.

      The latest issue in this line of selective input, is Wiener’s justification for proposed legislation for Jane Warner and Harvey Milk plazas. A capacity crowd at the Jan. 23 Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee met to discuss his proposed legislation which has now been amended at least twice (one item changed due to input by the ACLU).

      Excerpted from a change.org online petition that was submitted at the meeting: “We oppose Supervisor Scott Wiener's proposed regulations for Harvey Milk and Jane Warner plazas in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood. There was no community process in coming up with these regulations. In fact, a local community group, QUEEN (Queers for Economic Equality Now) had proposed a community task force to address any concerns people had with the plazas and develop ways to make them welcoming to all people, including the homeless. That proposal was rejected by Castro Benefits District (CBD), a neighborhood group funded by the city, and Scott Wiener.

      “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% of the city's homeless youth population.

      “Jane Warner, for whom the one plaza is named, cared a lot about homeless queer youth. As a Patrol Special officer, she worked tirelessly with homeless advocates in the neighborhood when they set up three separate homeless LGBT youth shelters in the late 90s. She understood that homeless people need services, housing and jobs, not citations that, when they aren't paid and turn into bench warrants, will inhibit their ability to secure housing.

      “The plaza named after Harvey Milk, another fierce advocate for queer youth, has become a symbol worldwide of the freedom that LGBT people have been fighting for these past five decades. It has always been a place where all people can gather, rally, have fun, sit, cruise, give out literature, sell pamphlets, and generally enjoy public space. Putting unnecessary restrictions on our public space is not in keeping with the spirit of Harvey Milk or the LGBT community.”

      The majority of public comments at the Jan. 23 hearing opposed the legislation including speakers from Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC), Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club, Community United Against Violence, Homes Not Jails, QUEEN, Gays Without Borders/SF, Coalition on Homelessness, Pride at Work, Homeless Advocates for Youth, Gubbio Project (a daytime program for homeless people at Saint Boniface Church in the Tenderloin), as well as personal friends of Harvey Milk and Officer Jane Warner. Unfortunately, the legislation was passed out of committee (Committee substitute Sup. Carmen Chu & Scott Wiener in favor; Committee Chair Eric Mar opposed) so the legislation will be heard by the full Board on Tues., Jan. 31.

      Wiener prides himself on having worked with “stake holders” but this has been limited to business and residential neighborhood associations and the paid-for CBD. When you look at the neighborhood association memberships, many of the same people and officers belong to multiple associations, and the presidents and officers are skewed to million-dollar homeowners. Likewise, I doubt there are any LGBT youth, homeless, or vulnerable populations represented in the Merchants of Upper Market & Castro (MUMC) or CBD groups.

      I have volunteered and donated thousands of hours of my time to MUMC, CBD, Castro After Dark (bar guild), Castro Farmers’ Market, and many activist, charitable, and neighborhood causes so I know from where I speak. Many issues are not black or white, but open dialogue results in the best solutions.

      I also have personal friends who have been affected by the ill-conceived Care Not Cash program, the Sit/Lie ordinance, TIC and Ellis Act evictions and gentrification. One friend who came out at 52 years of age lost his life savings and has been living out of his car for two years. My former roommate who will be 80 this year got evicted due to a TIC sale 14 years ago and she’s been homeless since. Other friends who could not beat crystal meth addictions have either died penniless or been forced to leave SF. As our LGBT senior population is about to explode, more people will be seeking assistance in the face of threats to social security and public services. How far are many of us from homelessness if we were to lose our job or public assistance?

      Victims of the economy, domestic violence, or homophobia often seek refuge in San Francisco due to our long-standing values of compassion and care. For LGBT folks, the Castro is perceived to be a beacon of hope, tolerance and often a last resort for help. To continually criminalize people and force them into a cycle of homelessness is not humane nor economically savvy for our city’s shrinking budget.

      Here’s my challenge to Sup. Wiener: publish a 2012 schedule now (rotating days and times) for monthly community meetings in your district. Have the first item on the agenda be for public comment. Publish the minutes online. Simple, transparent, democratic.

      The charade of “I have met with stake holders” is over. Many of your constituents don’t want to, or are unable to, join a neighborhood or merchant association. I have been a witness to how many of these groups control the agenda, and prearrange strategy, speakers and data to skew outcomes. They do not speak for me, nor your most vulnerable constituents. You were elected to represent the interests of ALL people who live, work, play or spend time in the Castro ... not just merchants, contracted benefit districts, and neighborhood associations.

      There’s a reason a Facebook group was created named “Recall Scott Wiener Now!” As with the Occupy movement, average people are fed up with the “haves” controlling the destiny of the “have nots.”

      # # #

      Gary Virginia is a 23-year Castro tenant and longtime community fundraiser and activist.

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