Milk plaza redesign unnecessary

  • by BAR staff
  • Tuesday November 21, 2017
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Milk plaza redesign unnecessary

Milk plaza redesign unnecessary

I'm writing in support of the opinions expressed by Howard Grant regarding the redesign of the Muni Metro entry and surrounding area ["Plaza architect weighs in on update," Guest Opinion, November 16]. The proposed new design is unnecessary and would cause considerable inconvenience to the public.

I've lived in the Castro for 44 years (when I moved in, the first neighborhood resident I met was when I took a roll of film to the camera store on Castro Street that Harvey Milk had just opened), and I walk through the Castro-Market intersection every day, so I know the area well and have observed transportation patterns and pedestrian circulation over many years. In my opinion, the existing subway entrance and Harvey Milk Plaza area are well designed and attractive. Since esthetics is a subjective matter, other people may disagree, or may feel that the proposed redesign is more appealing. But from a functional point of view, there can be no doubt that the new scheme has serious problems. The vast majority of Muni Metro users enter the subway station from Castro Street, where the bus lines stop (or they exit the station to get one of the buses or visit the Castro Street businesses), so the existing subway entrance is perfectly located. In contrast, if the new design is executed, subway users will have to walk uphill along Market Street, nearly to Collingwood, and then enter and go down into the station--requiring much more walking, as well as exposure to the elements in bad weather. The only reason for this clearly impractical arrangement is the sloping "stadium" structure that would replace the existing subway entrance. As Grant points out, the "assembly and protest" activities for which this structure is intended are provided for already, for example in the Jane Warner Plaza area. In my experience, the types of "stadium bleachers" envisioned in the redesign often prove to be underused for their intended functions and become unmaintained eyesores.

Another inconvenience of the redesign, of course, would be the long period of disruption while the existing subway entrance and surrounding area were torn up and the new construction was undertaken. And in a different way, the general public would be inconvenienced by the spending of millions of dollars for an unnecessary project. Although I'm trained as an architect, I have no personal investment in this issue, for I never made a design of my own for this project, and I don't know Grant or any of the other professionals involved in the matter. I simply feel the need to state that the proposed redesign is a bad idea from just about every point of view.

Paul V. Turner,

Professor of Architectural History, Emeritus

Stanford University

San Francisco

Questions about plaza redesign

Maybe I'm late to the party, I hope not, but, after seeing the "winning" redesign of Harvey Milk Plaza I have a few questions ["Milk plaza design winner named," November 2].

1) What's the point of the elevation of the design? To get a better view of five lanes of Market Street and 17th Street traffic and a busy intersection?

2) Has anyone considered the folks living at Collingwood and Market streets and how they feel about thousands of transit users now entering the Muni station outside of their front doors? Or the idea that transit users will now have to walk an extra block to enter the station?

Finally, and most important to me at least, what's wrong with the plaza as it is now?

As I exit daily out of the Muni station, coming up the wide steps (the only Muni station in San Francisco where the steps are not straight, by the way), I still get giddy seeing the giant rainbow flag, then the historical landmark Twin Peaks Tavern and then the welcoming and beautiful Castro Theatre sign.

With the new design and moving the station opening, I would see none of that. Instead, we would see a chain fence and a no-longer-used Muni tunnel.

I'm not one of those negative nellies who are against any and every bit of change. I love the palm trees on Market Street, the trollies at Jane Warner Plaza, the wider sidewalks, and the rainbow crosswalks.

But I question spending $10 million (say that out loud) on this proposed project.

The phrase "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes to mind. Sure, maybe spend some money to spruce it up - a water feature, plants, mosaics?

Lastly, I've read that one of the reasons for the redesign is that the tiered amphitheater would allow for more people to gather there for protests, rallies, memorials, etc. but, as history has proved, when the LGBT community needs more space we have never hesitated to take over the streets.

Let's keep the dialogue going. Peace and love my peeps.

Joe Mac

San Francisco

Gay community has never been inclusive

Let's be honest here: we all have likes and dislikes, turn-ons and turn-offs - that's totally human. But when using apps or these specific websites designed for meeting others, it's just not as easy to emphasize what you seek using civil language as it is to mention what you exclude, using the word "no ..." ["Jack'd goes after Grindr for alleged racism," November 9].

As a senior gay man of color it pains me to say the same-sex world has never been totally inclusive, and it still isn't.

We're supposed to be a community, but a true community supports all its members despite their individual differences.

It has always made me sad that so many of us are so unkind to each other and attempt to justify it as being "just a preference."

Ken Hensley

Alameda, California

Congrats to the Aussies

We were cheered to see the recent article on the Australian marriage issue ["Aussies vote 'I do' to marriage equality," November 16]. As a person who lived in Sydney from 1980-83, worked for our then-national gay newspaper, Campaign, and was secretary of the gay business association, I recall the horrific homophobia that permeated the land at that time. We sure have come a long way, baby, from those days of restrictive thinking and acting. How extraordinary it is to see such a refreshing change in that far-away nation.

We lost so many strong and dedicated gay men to AIDS that it's sad to look back. But I know how proud they would be to hear the latest news from their country. They helped to make it happen, just as surely as their activists do now. Onward and upward.

Mary Richards

Cathedral City, California