Public spaces in the city should be accessible to everyone in San Francisco, rather than putting restrictions on everyone's use of the commons in order to try to prevent the homeless from enjoying them.
Dear Supervisors Malia Cohen and Eric Mar (of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee):
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, 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 Special Patrol 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.
We hope that you will vote to kill this legislation in committee. Thank you.
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