Rules governing two outdoor plazas in the Castro inched closer to passage this week after a Board of Supervisors’ committee endorsed the proposed regulations.
Under the new guidelines for both Jane Warner and Harvey Milk plazas at the corner of Market and Castro streets, camping and sleeping would be banned at all hours in the public parklets. Cigarette smoking would also be prohibited in the two areas, while signage would make clear that removable chairs and tables would be stored between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. each day.
“This legislation is not draconian. It does not restrict anyone from the plazas,” stated Wiener, later adding, “This is basic, common sense legislation.”
The board’s land use committee voted 2-1 to support the rules, which now go before the full board for passage Tuesday, January 31. District 4 Supervisor Carmen Chu voted with Wiener in favor of the regulations.
“I appreciate the passion. But I do not believe it comes from a place of hate or discrimination,” stated Chu after hearing more than two hours of testimony during the Monday, January 23 hearing.
District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar, the committee’s chair, voted to oppose the measure even though he does believe smoking should be banned in the plazas. Having toured the parklets with those opposed to the rules, Mar stated he is concerned the regulations would hinder people’s civil rights.
“My hope is you can really work with everyone to address the human and civil rights issues,” stated Mar.
Kathy Amendola, a Castro resident who leads historic walking tours of the neighborhood, stated she routinely encounters people smoking crack or injecting drugs at the benches below the flagpole in Milk plaza.
“It is a safety issue and a public health issue,” she said.
Those working to reduce tobacco use among LGBT people hailed the rule banning smoking at the plazas. A number of people spoke about the dangers of smoking, including second-hand smoke, and how they are unable to use the plazas unless they are smoke free.
“Cigarette smoke makes it hard for me to breath,” said Brian Davis, the project director for Freedom from Tobacco, a program of the LGBT Community Center.
But medical marijuana advocates argued their needs to be a clear distinction that the use of doctor-prescribed cannabis is granted in the outdoor areas.
One anti-smoking advocate stated he had no objections to people using medical cannabis there.
Wiener needs six votes from his fellow supervisors next week to approve the regulations. Those opposed to the rules are targeting Board President David Chiu as the swing vote on the 11-member board and have been urging him to vote against the proposal.
“I do not want to speculate, but I think we have a good chance of getting this passed,” he said.
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Submited at Thursday, January 26th, 2012 at 4:00 am on Uncategorized by sofia
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