Support grows for Jane Warner plaza proposal
by Matthew S. Bajko
A proposal to name the Castro's pedestrian plaza in honor of a lesbian law enforcement official who died this month is gaining ground with residents of the city's LGBT neighborhood.
Shortly after news broke that Jane Warner, a San Francisco Patrol Special Police officer, had succumbed to a long battle with cancer May 8, friends and supporters floated naming the 17th Street Pedestrian Plaza in her honor on Facebook. Last week District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who worked closely over the years with Warner, introduced a resolution in support of the idea at the Board of Supervisors.
"I think there is merit to the idea and I think Jane is deserving. It would speak well of the community's values to name it after someone who worked behind the scenes and was not a big name, so to speak," said Dufty, who added he has yet to hear anyone oppose the proposal. "Right now all of the feedback has been favorable. We will continue to talk to people and gauge the neighborhood's sentiment. If there is consensus, I would move forward with it at the board."
Since then the idea has only generated supportive e-mails to Dufty's office. Even people whom Warner arrested throughout the years have voiced support for the idea, said Dufty.
Last week the board of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro unanimously voted to back the measure. In addition, all four of the top candidates running for Dufty's seat this fall told the Bay Area Reporter they support seeing Warner's name grace the outdoor seating area at the corner of Castro and Market streets.
Steve Adams, president of the Castro business group, said Warner was beloved by merchants, residents, and Castro tourists.
"Jane's heart and soul were in that neighborhood," said Adams. "She was definitely part of the fabric of that plaza. The patrol special was in charge of patrolling that plaza."
State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) also voiced support for the plan but expressed a desire to see the public be involved in the process.
"It is a great idea, but there should be some sort of community process to finalize it," said Leno, who knew Warner from when he served on the Board of Supervisors. "Jane's life was that neighborhood."
Mayor Gavin Newsom selected the Castro spot last year as the inaugural space to kickoff the city's program of turning underutilized streets into parks. The neighborhood gathered at the plaza last Saturday, May 22, to re-dedicate the space after the city installed more permanent structures and new planting at the site.
In an interview after the ceremony, Dominic Campodonico, president of the Castro Community Benefits District board of directors, said the group had yet to take a stance on the naming proposal. The CBD, which is financed by a special assessment on properties within the district, pushed for the creation of the plaza and had talked about holding a public competition on whom to name it after.
Warner had clashed with the CBD last year over the hiring of extra patrols at night in the Castro to be paid for by both bar owners and the benefits district. Rather than hire the less expensive services of the patrol specials, the CBD preferred seeing an off-duty police officer be hired.
Despite their feud over late night patrols, Campodonico did not dismiss the proposal to name the plaza in honor of Warner.
"Jane provided an invaluable service to the community. I think it is a great idea to name the plaza or something else in her honor," said Campodonico, who added he had spoken to Dufty about having the CBD oversee a naming contest for the plaza.
The supervisors' City Operations and Neighborhood Services Committee, which must first vote on Dufty's resolution, has yet to schedule a hearing to discuss the naming idea.
Warner, who was 53, began walking the Castro beat in 1993. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in late 2008. After breaking her arm during a scuffle with a man outside of Castro bar Trigger last Christmas, her cancer spread throughout her body.
A public memorial service is planned for 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 9 at Metropolitan Community Church-San Francisco, 150 Eureka Street in the Castro.