17th Street Plaza Well Used Its First Weekend
Despite concern from some neighborhood residents that the trial pedestrian plaza on 17th Street and Castro Street would be overrun with drunk revelers, vagrants, and other unsavory characters, those concerns didn't manifest the first weekend it was open, according to Andrea Aiello, Executive Director of the Castro/Upper Market CBD. As Aiello explained to Streetsblog, the "problems" they're encountering have everything to do with the success of the space.
"We had agreed that Orphan Andy's [staff] would lock up the tables and chairs at sundown, but by 8:30 pm it was packed," said Aiello, in reference to the large number of plaza users on Friday evening. "By 11 pm it was still totally packed."
She said that the temperature over the weekend, which reached into the 90s, highlighted a problem they hadn't anticipated: the need for shade.
"More shade and more heavy seating - these are the issues and they are positive things," she said. "People really like the granite curbs. I got a lot of positive feedback about the granite curbs. I spoke to Public Architecture about [getting more] and they said it all has to do with fire engine access, fire code in an emergency."
With regard to complaints, Aiello said she hadn't heard any. She even got good feedback from residents on Hartford Street, who were a vocal minority opposed to the plaza before it went in. "I'm pretty surprised," she said. "It seems like people are really taking care of it. We had a meeting with SFPD and the homeless outreach team-they are very aware of the need to walk through. So far no one is setting up camp at night."
She added that when people rave about the plaza to her, she reminds them that it is temporary. "If they want it to be permanent, they need to be sure to let us know."
More photos of the plaza from the 17th Street Plaza group on Facebook after the break.
Photographer Frank Yeean Chan described in his caption the manner in which the movable furniture was locked after hours, which kept them from being stolen while still permitting them to be used for sitting: