Cleaning up poor people - Page 3

Secretive agenda behind Clean Up The Plaza threatens one of San Francisco's last low-income neighborhoods

Jack Davis, pictured with Gil Chavez (left), wasn’t happy with the Guardian for asking tough questions about Clean Up The Plaza.
Guardian photo by Steven T. Jones

Chiu told us he heard about Davis's involvement with the group "a couple months ago," but that he raised the issue because "my friends in the Mission have alerted me to the crime issues."

Chiu said there are "several robberies a day" and "more stabbings than any part of the city" in the plaza (actually, the SFPD reports 10 robberies and nine assaults in February) and that "my focus has always been on crime," both in the Mission in the mid-Market area, where Chiu was one of the leading advocates at City Hall for using tax breaks and increased police presence to "clean up" the area.

"What I think we need to clean up are the violent crimes," Chiu said, defending his approach of using economic development tools to turn neighborhoods around. "The mid-Market area has been challenged for decades. We needed to do more to revitalize the area."

But Shortt said that's just another way private sector profits take priority over human needs and compassion.

"It's absolutely no coincidence that Twitter moved in and over 60 tenants in that building [1049 Market St.] received eviction notices," Shortt said. "There is a clear nexus between new construction and rising real estate values."

That same phenomenon has already transformed the Castro from a welcome enclave for LGBT outsiders into a middle class neighborhood with skyrocketing home prices.

"In a few years, the only thing gay about the Castro will be the flag," Jones said. "I feel so vulnerable right now. Where do we go? For my generation of gay men, it's very frightening."

"'Clean up' to us means displacement, increased violence, and increased stress," Guzman said. "It's changing completely the character of the city."

Campos, who opposed the mid-Market tax breaks and has been skeptical of the rhetoric behind them, said he's long been working to improve the police presence and social services in the plaza.

"We have been working on 16th and Mission for quite some time," Campos said. "I want to address it in a way that is independent of any developer's project."