Consultant Explains 16th Street BART Plaza Survey

En Español.

Jennifer Quinn is a consultant with Andrea Baker Consulting.  Since readers had questions about the survey, we asked her to write about the survey and their objectives. 

Andrea Baker Consulting has been hired by BART to figure out how to make the plazas at 16th St. and Mission more usable and welcoming for the whole community.

If you live, work, or go to school in the area, or if you are simply here to enjoy the neighborhood’s offerings, please take a moment to fill out our online survey.

16th St. BART Plaza Survey

16th St. BART Plaza Encuesta, en Espanol

Andrea Baker Consulting is a woman- and minority-owned firm, located in the Mission, where Andrea has lived for three decades and has brought up her own kids.  We are connected deeply to the community, which is in part why BART hired us.

We understand that the Plaza is at the center of a larger debate about gentrification and displacement, and we’d like to underscore that we have NOT been hired to sweep anyone off the Plaza. But we do think that by engaging more people on the Plaza, including families and seniors, everyone will start using the Plaza.

At this point, Andrea Baker Consulting is gathering impressions, concerns, and ideas from the local community and users of the 16th Street BART station. We want to hear from people who live and work nearby, as well as from those who are simply visiting.

Once we have identified potential opportunities to improve the space, we will meet up with some small, but diverse groups of stakeholders to implement viable programs that further activate the space. Under this project, BART is not considering any major changes to the built structure of the Plaza. This is a pilot project, and we will be looking closely at activities and amenities that can be started or installed quickly, and can be removed or stopped just as quickly, based on the success of each program/item.

Some early concepts that have been suggested include: chess games, salsa dancing, musical performances, art installations, small craft/artisan stalls, a coffee cart, and more.

As part of our process, Andrea Baker Consulting has been surveying people on and around the plaza at different times and days of the week. We’ve also had a wonderful response from the Mission Local readership via our online survey, and now have over 300 respondents. We are also continuing to interview individual stakeholders and organizations in the neighborhood to gain additional community input.

So, please take three minutes to complete our survey, and let us know if you have any further ideas or would like to get more involved!

13 Comments

  1. Rick Gerharter

    Andrea Baker reveals her complete bias in her list of who might be interested in giving their opinion about the 16th Street BART Plaza. She acts as if no one could possibly live, work or go to school in the neighborhood and use the Plaza. Only for those on their way to somewhere else in Baker’s view.

    • Guest

      I’m sorry, but I don’t understand your comment. Question #5 includes “I work nearby” “I live nearby” “I take my kids to school nearby” and more.

      • Guest

        I’m not sure what you’re referring to? Looks like one of the questions include “I work nearby” “I live nearby” “I take my kids to school nearby”. And the reasons listed for hanging out on the plaza look pretty inclusive.

    • Hello Rick,
      That was my mistake. The survey is intended to gather input from anyone who lives, works, goes to school in the area or has interaction with the place. Not just people passing through. I have corrected the copy. Thanks, –AV

    • My Take

      I was surprised when I read about a previous 16th Street station survey of BART passengers which found less than half of them were Hispanics. As I walk around there it seems around double that proportion.

      Be that as it may, late last year I met a Japanese tourist who had just emerged from the 16th Street BART station, and after she saw shopping carts full of junk and blankets and a row of about a dozen loiterers who always sat along the Wells Fargo wall of the plaza she told me, “I want to see a place that’s safe and clean”.

      instead of showing her around the Mission that I love, we re-entered BART and I showed her Union Square. You can be sure that because of the scary-looking loiterers she told her friends back home to stay clear of Mission Street, as many other tourists were undoubtedly doing. Less tourists coming to the Mission obviously means less shoppers and less revenue for local businesses.

      The loiterers dominated that part of the plaza and even left wooden chairs there 24 hours a day for months until they were cleared out late last year by the SFPD which suddenly undertook an impressive, all-day presence on the plaza that continues to a lesser extent today.

      So I’m glad the loiterers are gone and I hope they don’t come back, but anybody who steps off the escalator at the 16th Street BART station still sees on both sides filthy garbage receptacles, with the top of the one on the right being not only filthy but also bent out of shape.

      The sidewalk between the west side of the plaza and 17th Street is grimy and has some unsavory loiterers also including a woman who sits in a chair, but I doubt that much can be done about it.

    • My Take

      I was surprised to read about a previous 16th Street station survey of BART passengers that found less than half of them were Hispanics. As I walk around there it seems around double that proportion.

      Be that as it may, late last year I met a Japanese tourist who had just emerged from the 16th Street BART station, and after she saw shopping carts full of junk and blankets and a row of about a dozen loiterers who always sat along the Wells Fargo wall of the plaza she told me, “I want to see a place that’s safe and clean”.

      Instead of showing her around the Mission that I love, we re-entered BART and I showed her Union Square. You can be sure that because of the scary-looking loiterers she told her friends back home to stay clear of Mission Street, as many other tourists were undoubtedly doing. Less tourists coming to the Mission obviously means less shoppers and less revenue for local businesses.

      The loiterers dominated that part of the plaza and even left wooden chairs there 24 hours a day for months until they were cleared out late last year by the SFPD which suddenly undertook an impressive, all-day presence on the plaza that continues to a lesser extent today.

      So I’m glad the loiterers are gone and I hope they don’t come back, but anybody who steps off the escalator at the 16th Street BART station still sees on both sides filthy garbage receptacles, with the top of the one on the right being not only filthy but also bent out of shape.

      The sidewalk between the west side of the plaza and 17th Street is grimy and has some unsavory loiterers also including a woman who sits in a chair, but I doubt that much can be done about it.

  2. Oscar G.

    Spot on Rick!

    A few questions I have-
    Who is paying for the consultant? BART? Planning Dept?
    I’m not opposed to a survey by why not contract with the community ambassadors (mission resource center) who are from the community and already on the plaza?

    When the plaza was redesigned over 12 years ago there was a plan created focused on programming and safety. It was a face-to-face, people-to-people community process. It included rotating community art, that’s why there’s an art installation panel on the west side. Electrical hookups were incorporated for local mom & pop push-cart food vendors. And there was even a guide created on how local groups can organize neighborhood activities.

    None of that ever came to fruition. City Dept’s love making plans. Taxpayers shell out good money to well paid consultants to make good looking reports. What the City needed/needs to do is contract with a high capacity local organization to implement & sustain. Making sure the plaza is a place for local residents and workers to relax, recreate, socialize, while also making it a healthy place for children and elders. Much like what’s happening now, but better, healthier

    BTW the Spanish translation on the survey is hella wack!

    • I hope my new introduction clarifies things. We’ve been hired by BART, not the City. We’re NOT looking into new things to be built, just things we can do for the larger community to better use what is already there.

      Earlier programming and installations were handled by Mission Community Council, which is now defunct, due to lack of funding. We’re definitely trying to figure out long-term economic and organizational sustainability for programming moving forward.

    • And I hope our Spanish translation is better now. Some of our survey-givers are native Spanish speakers, and we have had many Spanish speakers respond to the written and the online survey. Thanks for your input!

  3. native

    This is a very disrespectful survey to the locals that live and work there. We need to ask those people. Not the ones that walk through for 2 minutes. Those are the true stakeholders. They are affected the most by what is there. The current community there not those outside the neighborhood. What about those that don’t have internet?

    • Jennifer Quinn

      I hope your concerns were addressed by my later-added introduction?

      • native

        It needs to be done by some local entity, not an outside paid consultant from BART. Someone who really knows the community and who stakeholders are. There are many more then then the old Mission Community Council. Gives me insight as to how much you know about the Mission. You have Poder, Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, Mission Neighborhood Centers and more……

  4. Jonathan

    I agree, Jennifer’s questions on the survey seemed to be leading, ie towards the answers that the plaza was unsafe and unclean. The whole of BART could be better maintained, but the train cars are filthy, the steps are filthy, even the station serving Union Square is dirty and in disrepair. The tall looming issue at the 16th Street plaza is Maximus, so its not surprising if some people with that issue in mind. To make the plaza safe and clean, and used to its potential, I would like to a community based non profit develop deeply affordable working class housing for families at the plaza. Bringing working class families into the plaza will help. In my opinion, the ten story highrise proposed by Maximus is too high, too expensive, and will cast shadow on the school, and I fear it will contribute to gentrification by cleaning out the homeless, the poor, the SRO residents who need the space to escape 100 square foot hotel rooms, and make it harder for local working class, minority families to live in the Mission District. I realize Maximus is proposing onsite Below Market Rate (BMR) units, but the BMR program is inflexible, it doesn’t allow household composition changes easily, i.e. if someone gets married, or adds a household member, they have requalify all over again, and if they earn even one penny too much, they have to move out, or not allow their spouse to move in. BMR just seems too rigid, and I would like to see the community ask for Low Income Housing Tax Credit with some units subsidized by HUD or SFHA so we can save some of the diversity that is being pushed out by skyrocketing rents, real estate sale prices, and new developments

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