Castro plaza bill passes, 6-5

David Chiu was the swing vote on new rules for public plazas

The Board of Supervisors has passed a watered-down version of Supervisor Scott Wiener's legislation to prevent camping and sleeping in Harvey Milk and Jane Warner plazas, with Supervisor David Chiu  casting the swing vote.

The bill passed 6-5 after an amendment by Chiu that stripped the bill of a provision which would keep shopping carts and other “large wheeled conveyances” from entering either plaza. But initial reactions among opposition activists has been mixed.

“I think it's fair to say that Supervisor Chiu gave an elegant compromise with his amendment... It's very polarizing legislation within the LGBT community,” said long-time LGBT activist Gabriel Haaland. Haaland, who added that he would not have voted in favor of the legislation, said many were concerned about the impact it might have on homeless LGBT youth.

Likewise, Bob Offer-Westort, an activist with the Coalition on Homelessness (CoH) who was arrested Friday night after pitching a tent in Jane Warner Plaza, expressed his satisfaction with today's decision, saying the supervisors removed the most controversial aspects of the legislation while applying the Parks Code, which imposes less onerous obligations on those subject to citations.

However he tempered this by saying, “it's still still onerous and bad policy to use the criminal justice system to address homelessness. ...I am very glad that supervisors who were concerned about the targeting of homeless youth took a moral stand today.”

Tommi Mecca, an activist with the San Francisco Housing Rights Committee, was training new activists and had not been able to watch the board vote,, but said that he was disappointed that the legislation passed at all.

“My initial reaction is that it's sad we have to have regulations at all. Especially in Harvey Milk Plaza. Harvey Milk Plaza is a symbol for the LGBT community... it was just a fun, free place,” Mecca said.

“I don't think it should be illegal to sleep in a public place. If there's an earthquake, people think it's fine to sleep on the street. But being homeless is a crisis too. Public space should be public... The reality was that we did not have a sixth vote to kill it.”


He's not an elected representative - he's a union representative. GLBT people have the same concerns over chronic homelessness as does the city at-large.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 31, 2012 @ 10:35 pm

I'm confused, is Haaland an elected official? Why should anyone care how he would have voted? His vote matters as much as my vote as a citizen.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 31, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

so naive

Posted by matlock on Jan. 31, 2012 @ 11:23 pm

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the controversy surrounding the public rainbow flag at Harvey Milk Plaza. Last January 26, gay Ugandan activist David Kato was brutally and senselessly murdered in Kampala and as part of a global call to action, Gary Virginia and I organized a vigil the first week of February and requested that the flag be lowered at half-mast.

This simple request to the illegitimate holders of the key to the flagpole's control box, the Merchants of Upper Market/Castro, ignited a debate over why this private group has domain over an incredibly important piece of public space.

The flag was eventually lowered for Kato, but it took overcoming unnecessary hurdles and an extreme uncooperative nature on the part of Steve Adams, the president of MUMC and the local Sterling Bank.

On Saturday, February 4 starting at 2 PM, many of the politicians, merchants and civic organizations that have adamantly refused to hold any public discussion over the one-year and counting flagpole controversy, will be at Jane Warner Plaza.

At this public event, a gaggle of straight and gay elites will be unveiling a plaque honoring the life and work of the late policewoman and lesbian activist Jane Warner. According to the Bay Area Reporter, gay career politicians Mark Leno, Scott Wiener and Bevan Dufty will be officiating. They'll also be mouthing off about how great they are. Any time one of them speaks, it always is with the intent of advancing themselves and the unveiling on Saturday is the perfect opportunity to zap them with questions over the flag.

Of course, not one of them is known for holding regular town halls, which would be a more perfect venue to discuss issues like the flag, but because the pols don't democratically engage voices of protest must be raised in the (ever-dwindling) public space.

Leno, Wiener and Dufty together don't make up even half of the greatness of Harvey Milk, their predecessor as the Castro's supervisor. Unlike these three who have buried their heads in the sand on the flag, Harvey would be bringing all factions together and creating a solution.

Since this is the Castro, and we are talking about one of the two plazas that may soon come under additional city restrictions because of polarizing legislation from Wiener, where he held no community meetings of his own open to all to discuss the proposal before introducing it, and the legislation is expected to pass the full board tomorrow, I expect I won't be the only activist there.

If the three amigos were smart, they'd organize for a public comment and general assembly, and not stage just another photo-op for themselves and only they get to talk. Lemme know when gay democracy breaks out in the Castro.

Posted by MPetrelis on Jan. 31, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

I wonder if CNN or MSNBC know about this flag controversy. Sounds like an international incident to me.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 9:21 am

Those three are all about legislating citizens actions.

It's entertaining how our true believers pick and choose their way through what they allow the citizens to do. If they are the one telling the peons how to live it's OK, if not, it's a travesty of justice.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 10:29 am

So who were the 6?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 10:55 am

District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar NO happy meal ban yes
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 happy meal ban yes
District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen YES
District 11 Supervisor John Avalos NO happy meal ban yes

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 11:31 am

>"If there's an earthquake, people think it's fine to sleep on the street." They wouldn't that it was fine at all. They would follow instructions and get to a park or other area designated for sleeping and they would be doing everything they could to get themselves (and their fellow citizens) off the street as soon as possible.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 01, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

Scott Wiener you will never win don't think cause this bill was passed you got us ha ha ya right we will protest and protest and protest til we win and we will us LGBTQ PEOPLE never give up its 2012 wiener wake up and smell the coffee will fight to get what milk worked hard for

Posted by Guest bunny aka c.lopez on Feb. 04, 2012 @ 5:47 am