24th Street BART Plaza Will Grow

Lower 24th St. Mission Merchant Association member John Mendoza (left) and Planner Rube Warren hash out the landscape of future 24th Street BART plaza

Lower 24th St. Mission Merchant Association member John Mendoza (left) and Planner Rube Warren hash out the landscape of future 24th Street BART plaza

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The remodel of the 24th Street BART plaza will add 1,200 square feet to the plaza’s southwest corner, according to planners who met with the community last Wednesday.

“These plazas are important public open spaces … they are gateways to the neighborhood for residents and myriad visitors,” said Tom Radulovich, the BART board’s vice president. “Everyone I talk to about them agrees they are not working now the way they should.”

Principle planner Rube Warren said he should have the finished designs by May, with construction done by October 2013. The station will remain open throughout construction.

A 2007 project report, authored by Warren and others, stated that “the plaza lacks basic infrastructure and amenities — a stage, vendor stalls, seating and sufficient bus shelters — to support healthy public life.”

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“We’ve opened up the area quite a bit,” said Warren, whose main concerns include growing the plaza’s open space. The redesign features a bus bulb along Mission Street that will add 1,200 square feet to the plaza. The bulb will be the length of two buses, resembling the one at the 16th Street BART station.

“It’ll be big,” said Warren.

At the Wednesday meeting, community members talked about how the new plaza will change the corner’s aesthetics, functionality and safety.

Vicky Valdez, who coordinates schedules for vendors at the 24th Street plaza, worried that thieves would approach vendors from Osage, the alley just behind the station.

“Is there going to be adequate lighting?” asked Officer Eugene Wong. “Particularly in that alley, if there are any dark spots, that can encourage crime.”

“We’ve doubled the light fixtures all along the curb,” responded the project’s architect, Robin Chiang.

“The alley is a big challenge to all of us,” said Warren, who suggested that vendors might be able to set up farther away from Osage. “We don’t know how that space is going to get used until we build it.”

The community was divided over whether the new plaza would have enough trees. Erick Arguello, chair of the Lower 24th Street Merchants and Neighbors Association, suggested that trees might provide shade to the bus stops, and member John Mendoza backed him up.

“I’m not a tree lover, but if a tree is doing well, why not incorporate it?” said Mendoza.

Warren said that more trees would cramp the space and encourage loitering, a potential danger to nighttime travelers.

Another attendee, Maria Maigua, said, “Currently homeless people stand in front of the trees along 24th,” deterring customers from approaching vendors.

Diana Medina, a regular vendor at the plaza who also operates Niju Jewelry on 26th Street, called the trees a safety hazard for the elderly. “The roots from these trees break up the concrete, and people trip on it. And when it rains, people use the trees to urinate; you can smell it.”

Maigua waved her hand across the model’s fake trees. “We should just remove them,” she said.

After hearing the testimony, Arguello called Medina’s and Maigua’s concerns reasonable.

Warren assured Medina that the broken bricks and concrete would be repaired in the plaza’s overhaul. After the meeting, Warren said, “I’ll be advocating that we add two ginkgo trees somewhere on the Mission frontage, on the new paved area.”

The project has been in the pipeline for more than a decade, Warren said, but has secured funding only in the last two years. Todd Morgan, a principal financial analyst for the project, puts the total cost at around $3.2 million so far.

Community suggestions have tweaked the design and upped the price, so Morgan is on the hunt for another million in grants — just in case, he said.

Morgan said the project’s art component is one reason the price went up. “To really do it right, I don’t think we had that budgeted sufficiently. We had an approach on artwork that was going to be very small, local and limited.”

BART put out a call in February for local artists to compete to beautify the plaza, as a component of the remodel.

According to the project’s public art consultant, Regina Almaguer, when only 15 artists submitted applications, the art selection committee extended the contest deadline to May 18 and expanded the art budget to $200,000, including a $1,000 honorarium for the chosen artist.

“We have a significant amount of funding in place,” said Morgan, “but there’s my feeling based on experience that we’re going to need more.”

For information about the project’s art component, go here, or email questions to 24MissionPlaza(at)gmail(dot)com.

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26 Comments

  1. marco

    Oh boy! I’ve heard this story before. In the beautiful mockups of the plaza at Mission at 16th that were presented by the designers it was a leafy open air clean space where “community” members lounged and walked happily. The reality is that it is an open air drug market where homeless people pile their belongings and nod off on their heroin highs, argue loudly over drug sales gone bad, or simply pass out in their own urine on the steps. These “community” spaces just become festering sores if they are not policed properly, which they are not. Please save the millions of dollars — this is only going to be another 16th/Mission disaster.

    • nativa

      Indeed! The quote that these amazing plazas are ‘important public spaces’ is especially humorous(less). Its a BART station first… like 16th Street, where are the places for people to pull over and drop off or pick up out of town visitors (preferably without being robbed, stabbed or tripping on needles any time of day or night). Hey BART, how frequented are your trips from these stations to SFO? Would you want your visitors or family to arrive here? Have you walked here at 5am to catch BART to SFO? Try it with your bag sometime. Of course they should be inviting places, but lack of law enforcement, planning and plain common sense has eluded the city as well as BART. Yeah, go ahead, have a task team and make little models with a tree on them and spend the bucks you seem to have. Ill wait to see the next phase of wasted money. Must be nice!

    • Drew

      A redesign will not change the fact that there are vagrants and drug dealers; but you have to admit, designwise, that the new 16th Street Plaza was a big improvement over what was there before.

  2. Pamela

    What a joke! Whoever is in charge, needs to get rid of all the trash who continuously loiter around the 16th & 24th St BART Stations. From what I’ve seen of the community, they are the ones causing most of the problems at the BART stations. Plus the vendors selling schlock only crowd the plaza, they do not add any value. As for the trees, look at areas without trees – They tend to be rundown & blighted. Trees beautify a neighbhorhood.

    • The Kenosha Kid

      Agreed about the junkies, the vendors not so much. Space that is getting used for legal commerce, even the lowest-end sort, is space that is not being used for drug dealing or shooting up. Plus the vendors have a vested interest in keeping the space somewhere that customers want to come to, and they’re a set of eyes that are actually looking at what’s going on around the plaza, not just glancing as they pass through. I’d like to see more of them.

    • If the vendors didn’t add value, they wouldn’t be there. Someone is buying their stuff.

      Frankly almost every other subway station in the world has more (and better) vendors than the ones at the Mission Bart stops.

  3. Marina Girl

    I know , right? We are trying to have a better more upscale Mission but all these f*ing poor people keep getting in the way!! What if we ban all food that is not Organic then we can starve the poor out of our new playground! Dont worry in 20 years time the Mission will have all the flavor of the Marina.

    • The Kenosha Kid

      Newsflash, lame troll: poor people dislike stepping in human feces, getting robbed and being accosted by junkies every bit as much as rich people do. More, even: rich people have the option of avoiding it.

    • calabrese68

      It’s hard to tell if you are being sarcastic or serious in print.

      • randolph mortimer

        a tedious one note troll who probably doesn’t even live in the Mission.. Marina folk aren’t even that common except for in Dolores park

  4. Tim

    Maybe they could spend money to make the #!@ escalators work instead of wasting it on this. The 24th street up escalator has been broken more days than it has been working in 2012.

    • Nocalal

      Couldn’t agree more. It doesn’t even look like they’re doing any work at all on the broken escalator on the SW side.

  5. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable

    Wait, they’re talking about removing trees?! That’s nuts. The plazas need MORE trees, not less.

  6. asdf

    Develop that shit. We as Californians have this stupid attachment to buzzwords like “plaza” “open space” and “green space”. This parcel could easily support an 8 story office building that could contribute quite nicely to that intersection.

  7. calabrese68

    The land above the plazas should be sold and turned into housing and retail. The entrances to BART could be small simple sidewalk level entrances (like one sees in NYC). The plazas, as many others here have suggested, are merely places for drug dealers and users to hangout all day to do all manner of illegal things. The City and BART should wake up to the reality of the situation and not dream on drawing boards. Selling the plazas to generate revenue, create housing, and enliven the area with retail is a far better use for the BART plazas – all of them.

    • marco

      Good idea! Generate funds, create much-needed housing, and create an area that is more populated by residents who care about where they live and will work to keep it clean and safe.

    • xls

      The Plaza concept is a loser and just attracts a bunch of losers. People coming and going to work always hurry through to get away from the lowlifes and the stink. Walk through there with your luggage to go to SFO? RU Crazy? It would just advertize “come steal my stuff!”

      Build housing upstairs for more eyes on the street, and make the entrance a hole in the ground a la New York or Paris.

      I can’t believe that they want to install a Stage! Just an elevated platform for the drunks and junkies to sleep on.

  8. Susan

    Maybe some of BART’s surplus funds could go to hiring local youth to keep the plazas clean and prevent loitering. It would be nice to have public restrooms- staff would be needed to monitor them, so funding for staff should be part of the overall improvements to make these areas functional community spaces.

  9. Mister Big

    Not needed. Save the money or spend it more wisely.

  10. Ami

    The 16th St. plan didn’t work. Face it. It’s drug sticken as it always has been. It’s a crime meeting place to hang out or pass out. What were they thinking when they planned it out. Were they on drugs to? The 24th St. plan can work but it really needs to be cleaned up.And Let it be a gateway to the flavor of the community who lives here. It should represent the community it’s in. and be respectful for the people who live,work, and play here. This is our home.

    • “Didn’t work” by what criteria? Their plan is to redesign a plaza, not solve the entire world’s social problems. Given that, I think they did just fine.

  11. randolph mortimer

    If you build it, they will come (and urinate all over it)

  12. BF

    I agree with earlier comments that the station should be viewed -and improved- first an foremost as an important transportation hub – where lugging a suitcase to SFO or getting dropped off in a car or getting a bike quickly to the train platform is the priority – not hanging out. I would rather see this money go to having a cleaner, greener station.

  13. Glen Schreitmueller

    with the crime that clusters around both the 16th and 24th street brats, creating a bigger plaza is less helpful. The bus bubble is good, and I do think that the person that wrote about a pickup/drop off lane was sensible as well. (Perhaps a double bubble)? Without an actual police presence, I am concerned it will be more of the same as 16th street Bart which should get cleaned up and stabilized prior to this one-time effort initiative.

Comments are closed.