Strong opposition to Wiener plaza plan

|
(17)

More than 20 prominent LGBT activists, including eight former presidents of the Harvey Milk Club, have signed a letter opposing legislation by Sup. Scott Wiener that would put some restrictions on the use of the two plazas near Castro and Market.

Harvey Milk Plaza and Jane Warner Plaza are both in an odd legal situation -- they aren't city parks, and they aren't city streets or sidewalks, so they don't fit under any existing codes. The park code, for example, bars camping; the sit-lie law applies to sidewalks, but not to these plazas.

So Wiener is seeking some clarity -- but his proposal has drawn the ire of the Coalition on Homelessness and the ACLU -- and now a group of people who trace their political roots back to Milk, and who say that restricting the use of a plaza with his name is a terrible idea: Here's their letter:

We, the undersigned members of the Harvey Milk Club, write in opposition to the proposed new regulations for Harvey Milk and Jane Warner Plazas.

We are writing because Harvey Milk’s name is attached to one of the two plazas for which this legislation was written and is a historic space that for decades has been a site of free speech. In the 1970s, Harvey Milk fought against that era’s sit/lie law—a law that had been written to target the hippies of the Haight-Ashbury, but was, in Milk’s day, used as an excuse to attempt to drive gay men out of the Castro. Those of us who have been around long enough, or who are at all in touch with our community’s history, are familiar with the image of Harvey Milk and his megaphone at the plaza which was eventually given his name. To propose to prohibit sitting in that very plaza is not just ironic, it disrespects our community’s legacy.

The interests of the LGBT community have always been united with the interests of public space. As a community that is forced—far too often and for far too long—to spend much of our collective lives “in the closet,” the ability to be free in public spaces has been tremendously liberating. Harvey Milk knew that liberation was only possible if we escaped the shadows of anonymity and invisibility. When we restrict these spaces—even when those restrictions are meant, initially, to be applied to another group of people—we damage ourselves.

We must also recognize that this law does not apply, in any very meaningful way, to another group of people: It applies to us. A great many—perhaps the majority—of homeless people who spend time in the Castro are LGBT San Franciscans, who came from somewhere else, but who came here seeking community and safety. This is most especially notable for the youth of LYRIC. Cuts to the City budget have reduced LYRIC’s drop-in hours to only a few every week. During the other hours, homeless LGBT youth are faced with the choice of either heading to drop-in services in the Mission or Tenderloin—services that are already so overburdened that they must turn clients away, and which likely feel to most youth to be outside of their own communities—or using open spaces in the Castro. With Collingwood Park fenced in, Harvey Milk and Jane Warner Plazas are the last open community spaces in the neighborhood. They are the last places in our community where our community’s most marginalized youth can be.

We have read and share the grave concerns expressed by the ACLU.  Much of the law infringes on important constitutional freedoms, and as they noted, cannot be cured.  We respectfully ask the Board of Supervisors to vote no.

Sincerely,

Tom Ammiano, Assembly member
Harry Britt, Co-Founder, Harvey Milk Club,  Former Supervisor who replaced Harvey Milk on the Board of Supervisors
Cleve Jones, Co-Founder, Harvey Milk Club, Human Rights and AIDS activist, Co-founder of SF AIDS Foundation and AIDS Memorial Quilt
The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
Stephany Joy Ashley, President, Harvey Milk Club
Gabriel Haaland, Former President, Harvey Milk Club, Former Commissioner
Laura Thomas, Harvey Milk Club member, AIDS activist
Anna Glendon Conda Hyde, Harvey Milk Club member, Commissioner
Esperanza Macias, Former Vice-President, Harvey Milk Club
Eileen Hansen, Harvey Milk Club member, Former Commissioner
Rafael Mandelman, Former President, Harvey Milk Club, Former Commissioner
Gwenn Craig, Former President, Harvey Milk Club, Former Commissioner
David Waggoner, Former President, Harvey Milk Club
Nate Albee, Former President, Harvey Milk Club
Tamara Ching, Harvey Milk Club member
Lisa Feldstein, Harvey Milk Club member, Former Commissioner
Suzanne Rueker, Harvey Milk Club officer
Carol Stuart, Vice-President, Harvey Milk Club
Kim-Shree Maufus, Vice President, Harvey Milk Club, Commissioner
Matt Dorsey, Harvey Milk Club member, SFDCCC
Brian Bassinger, Former President, Harvey Milk Club
Debra Walker, Former President, Harvey Milk Club, Former Commissioner

Comments

From SF Gate.

"
Highlights of Wiener’s legislation include banning sleeping at any time in the plazas; prohibiting camping, cooking or creating any kind of shelter; banning the selling or bartering of any merchandise without a permit; and prohibiting four-wheeled shopping carts. Also, plaza goers couldn’t smoke.

Violations would be an infraction with a maximum fine for repeat offenders of $500.

“It’s very clearly anti-homeless legislation,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, director of the Coalition on Homelessness, who is organizing a big turnout to decry the proposal at Monday’s land use committee meeting.

So which parts does she especially hate?

“Pretty much everything,” she said. “Except the smoking.”
"

That last line is so typical of our SF sect.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

Wait, really? Can you cite something you find unobjectionable in this law that isn't already covered by existing local or state law? If you haven't even looked, then you're far too typical of our local conservative snarkist, who takes the claims of conservative politicians at face value, but never does any real fact-checking.

Posted by Bob Offer-Westort on Jan. 24, 2012 @ 12:36 am

The point of the legislation is to enable actions to actually be taken in the plaza. Any sort of legal ambiguity makes it less likely that the police will act, even if they have the authority to do so, because they can predict such a typical response. Whether or not you believe it, a majority of San Franciscans, especially D8ers, DO want something to be done about this. Where's your alternative solution? At least Scott Wiener is courageous enough to try to do something about problems that others are willing to conveniently ignore.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2012 @ 11:40 am

You conveniently ignored the question. Can you tell me what problem you'd like solved, & then explain what this legislation does to solve that problem that isn't covered by existing law? 'I'm the majority because I say I'm the majority & therefore I'm right!' doesn't count as a response.

Posted by Bob Offer-Westort on Jan. 24, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

I didn't comment either way on the law, what is interesting is that you can't tell our golden hobo's what to do, but heaven forbid someone smokes outdoors.

Someone complains about others being brainwashed?

Remember when the mantra around sit-lie was "enforce laws already on the books" although that was echoed by such folks as David Campos who hates it when we enforce laws on the books.

Also have no idea what conservative politicians you are talking about? Have any weighed in on the subject? Anywhere?

Posted by matlock on Jan. 24, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

I wish the above made sense so that I could respond to it meaningfully.

But I guess I don't need to, since you apparently have no position on the law: just on opposition to it.

I do recommend reading it, tho: It's only five pages, double-spaced, & it's free on-line.

Posted by Bob Offer-Westort on Jan. 25, 2012 @ 6:14 am

Cant wait to see what petrelis has to say about this.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

I've lived on the stretch of Castro St. between Market and 18th for almost 9 years and I'd like to state that Supervisor Wiener does not represent my views. He likes to state that his proposals come from suggestions made by the community, but if you count only his political associates belonging to the 1% and moderate business owners as the entirety of the District 8 community, well, I guess then he'd be right.

Posted by Jason Villalobos on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

When you get a chance you will want to report on the SECOND DV accusation against the NEW SHERRIFF

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 7:14 pm

One thing that always gets lost in discussions on these types of laws is how they hinder efforts to get people off the streets. So this law goes into effect and homeless and poor folks who are not homeless but appear homeless are cited. They don't pay the fine because they don't have the money. The fine turns into a bench warrant and perhaps jail time. Then when they go to apply for affordable housing, they get turned down because they have a "criminal" history. If they happen to come to a housing advocacy group such as the one I work for, then we advocate like hell and spend lots of time and effort to maybe get them into the housing. But a lot of people won't bother fighting it because they don't think they can win. And they're right in many instances. Legislation such as this increases homelessness and helps keep homeless folks on the streets longer. Does that make sense? It doesn't to me.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

You have some good insight on this subject. Ramifications of our actions are often not taken into consideration

Posted by Guest on Jan. 24, 2012 @ 11:05 am

It's sad and shameful that so many over-stuffed, overt oinks fought so hard against providing services for homeless GLBT, and straight, youth in the community. How quickly they forgot the struggle that made it possible for them to get theirs. Greedy selfish bastards.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Jan. 24, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

I doubt very likely the law will written of this, the law will be written to keep the homeless, street people from being entrenched. I can understand the law being written, seeing that some of the people will say in court it doesn't say anything about siting or laying down here. What about the other users in the area, don't the GLBT have a right to hang out in Milk Plaza and not get bothered.

Posted by garrett on Jan. 24, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

Some have the public realm and the public good in mind. SuperWiener, as some like to call him, has his delicate sensibilities, affluence and the broader agenda of privitazation of public spaces in, um.....mind?

In the words of the Supervisor ""This legislation is not draconian. It does not restrict anyone from the plazas," said Wiener, later adding, "This is basic, common sense legislation." - well, obviously that's a matter of opinion. It's interesting to me that Wiener focuses his attention on such matters (which some might categorize as demonizing the homeless, destitute and desperate...), rather than do work to HELP homeless people. As one person has said "I'm sooo releived to know that our very own "SuperWeiner" (I just coined that) is expending his legislative might to tackle the REALLY BIG issues plaguing our fair corner of the City."

Unfortunately for all of us and for our city by the bay, Homelessness has been a favorite political football in this in some ways provincial town for neigh unto 4 decades. The politicians and other forces in the city use homelessness and the homeless to attain other political goals. I find this particularly ugly and loathsome as the homeless represent the weakest link in our shared culture - they are the most desperate of folk among us. Just in case there are those of us who might not have thought of this, many if not all of the homeless are multiply-diagnosed. The first thing they are diagnosed with is not having a home (a condition which plays havoc with one's dignity not to mention personal hygiene.) Then comes HIV disease of various stages of progression, other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis as well as health problems that are present in the non-homeless population but may not be treated in the homeless due to lack of medical care or access to such, active or latent drug and alcohol dependencies, mental illness, at-risk state of being for such things as sexual and physical and emotional and legal assault, and the list goes on and on.

Add to that, the heavy handed regulatory aspirations of Wiener Doodle. Let's face it, folks, even if he isn't one of the 1% now, he is certainly acting like one and undoubtably aspires to be one of the one, in time. He DOES have a Harvard Law degree, after alll.......but unlike our President, Barack Obama, he is not an appealing creature - quite the opposite. When I first became aware of him running for District 8 Supervisor, let's just say that my visceral, intuitive response was not favorable. And he has shown himself to be just as I intuited. He was behind the Ballot Measure the year he ran, 2010, to do what Republican Governors in other states have done - bash the Unions. Well, Scott, darling deary - do you know why it's called "Union Square" - probably not, or you haven't thought of the ramifications of such. He was behind the "Sit/Lie" ballot measure that DID pass in November of 2010. He seems to be all up in the face of working folk and the disadvantaged. And it's obvious why - in addtion to being unusally taller than most people, he not only literally looks down on others, but figuratively, as well. It's just odious behavior, not befitting of a PUBLIC SERVANT.

Well, I'm going to say right here and now that in 2014? I'm looking forward to someone running AGAINST him if he tries for a second term. He is that bad. The GAY MEN I know have told me that he wanders the streets of his district, his eyes glued to his Blackberry, while he is blind to his constituents all around him. BAD NENERGY folks. Just not appealing as a person and certainly not as an elected official spearheading policy and regulatory mechanisms.

I think we need to OCCUPY Scott Wiener.....any takers?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2012 @ 10:36 pm

Some people have the public realm and the public good in mind. SuperWiener, as some like to call him, has his delicate sensibilities, affluence and the broader agenda of privitazation of public spaces in, um.....mind?

In the words of the Supervisor ""This legislation is not draconian. It does not restrict anyone from the plazas," said Wiener, later adding, "This is basic, common sense legislation." - well, obviously that's a matter of opinion. It's interesting to me that Wiener focuses his attention on such matters (which some might categorize as demonizing the homeless, destitute and desperate...), rather than do work to HELP homeless people. As one person has said "I'm sooo releived to know that our very own "SuperWeiner" (I just coined that) is expending his legislative might to tackle the REALLY BIG issues plaguing our fair corner of the City."

Unfortunately for all of us and for our city by the bay, Homelessness has been a favorite political football in this in some ways provincial town for neigh unto 4 decades. The politicians and other forces in the city use homelessness and the homeless to attain other political goals. I find this particularly ugly and loathsome as the homeless represent the weakest link in our shared culture - they are the most desperate of folk among us. Just in case there are those of us who might not have thought of this, many if not all of the homeless are multiply-diagnosed. The first thing they are diagnosed with is not having a home (a condition which plays havoc with one's dignity not to mention personal hygiene.) Then comes HIV disease of various stages of progression, other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis as well as health problems that are present in the non-homeless population but may not be treated in the homeless due to lack of medical care or access to such, active or latent drug and alcohol dependencies, mental illness, at-risk state of being for such things as sexual and physical and emotional and legal assault, and the list goes on and on.

Add to that, the heavy handed regulatory aspirations of Wiener Doodle. Let's face it, folks, even if he isn't one of the 1% now, he is certainly acting like one and undoubtably aspires to be one of the one, in time. He DOES have a Harvard Law degree, after alll.......but unlike our President, Barack Obama, he is not an appealing creature - quite the opposite. When I first became aware of him running for District 8 Supervisor, let's just say that my visceral, intuitive response was not favorable. And he has shown himself to be just as I intuited. He was behind the Ballot Measure the year he ran, 2010, to do what Republican Governors in other states have done - bash the Unions. Well, Scott, darling deary - do you know why it's called "Union Square" - probably not, or you haven't thought of the ramifications of such. He was behind the "Sit/Lie" ballot measure that DID pass in November of 2010. He seems to be all up in the face of working folk and the disadvantaged. And it's obvious why - in addtion to being unusally taller than most people, he not only literally looks down on others, but figuratively, as well. It's just odious behavior, not befitting of a PUBLIC SERVANT.

Unlike some, I view the homeless as PEOPLE first and foremost - meaning not "vermin" or "trash" or "hopeless" or "a drain on society", but rather fellow human beings. Fellow human beings, who the last thing they need, is powerful people with malevolent agendas taking advantage of them and/or their plight.

Well, I'm going to say right here and now that in 2014? I'm looking forward to someone running AGAINST him if he tries for a second term. He is that bad. The GAY MEN I know have told me that he wanders the streets of his district, his eyes glued to his Blackberry, while he is blind to his constituents all around him. BAD NENERGY folks. Just not appealing as a person and certainly not as an elected official spearheading policy and regulatory mechanisms.

I think we need to OCCUPY Scott Wiener.....any takers?

♥╬♣

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2012 @ 10:41 pm

Unfortunately for all of us and for our city by the bay, Homelessness has been a favorite political football in this in some ways provincial town for neigh unto 4 decades. The politicians and other forces in the city use homelessness and the homeless to attain other political goals. I find this particularly ugly and loathsome as the homeless represent the weakest link in our shared culture - they are the most desperate of folk among us. Just in case there are those of us who might not have thought of this, many if not all of the homeless are multiply-diagnosed. The first thing they are diagnosed with is not having a home (a condition which plays havoc with one's dignity not to mention personal hygiene.) Then comes HIV disease of various stages of progression, other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis as well as health problems that are present in the non-homeless population but may not be treated in the homeless due to lack of medical care or access to such, active or latent drug and alcohol dependencies, mental illness, at-risk state of being for such things as sexual and physical and emotional and legal assault, and the list goes on and on.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

Unfortunately for all of us and for our city by the bay, Homelessness has been a favorite political football in this in some ways provincial town for neigh unto 4 decades. The politicians and other forces in the city use homelessness and the homeless to attain other political goals. I find this particularly ugly and loathsome as the homeless represent the weakest link in our shared culture - they are the most desperate of folk among us. Just in case there are those of us who might not have thought of this, many if not all of the homeless are multiply-diagnosed. The first thing they are diagnosed with is not having a home (a condition which plays havoc with one's dignity not to mention personal hygiene.) Then comes HIV disease of various stages of progression, other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis as well as health problems that are present in the non-homeless population but may not be treated in the homeless due to lack of medical care or access to such, active or latent drug and alcohol dependencies, mental illness, at-risk state of being for such things as sexual and physical and emotional and legal assault, and the list goes on and on.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 27, 2012 @ 10:43 pm