Christy has lived near City Hall for the last five years and goes to the Farmer’s Market at UN Plaza about twice a month.
“I like when the Farmer’s Market is here. It’s very happy. Typically I buy a lot of vegetables, a lot of fruit; I buy from the cheese guy. I buy sausages; I don’t know, I haven’t seen her in a while for sausage. Her name’s Christine. I buy dates. And they always have the dollar vegetables which are really nice. I make a lot of soups with it.”
Other than for the Farmer’s Market or access to public transportation, Christy doesn’t hang out much in Civic Center’s public spaces.
“I never go by the fountain. It’s too dangerous. It’s just way too dangerous. A lot of homeless, a lot of drugs. You see fights and stuff. I mean, I come through to get to the public transport but it’s a little dicey sometimes… Right now it’s fine because the Farmer’s Market is here; they have security.”
Christy’s main concerns were lack of safety and drug use.
“They need to clean up the area. They have a lot of people dealing drugs here. One thing I learned because I live in this area -there’s a saying that I’ve heard from addicts and they say that, ‘There’s everything you need on the street’. Some of them prefer to live on the street than live in housing because they can get all their drugs…apparently this is a destination point if you want to use. It’s kinda weird, some people come here to get well but other people come here to use so they need to kind of not enable people.”
“If they didn’t have so many problems with the vagrants, they could have grass here and people could lay on it. You know…I went to a place on Green [Street] and I had a meeting there. And I was just walking through it. There’s a little park right near Safeway where California Street ends, a little bit inland from the Embarcadero. And there was a little park and people were just laying out there on their lunch hour, just hanging out. Kinda like they do at Golden Gate Park. It would be nice to have that [in Civic Center]. They really have to police more.”
She remembers a time when public spaces did not allow for these types of behaviors.
“I’m a little older so I remember when public spaces like this… you didn’t have people loitering…it was illegal to loiter. Because you know, there’s an old saying, “Idle hands work the devil,” unfortunately. I think people need to work. I think they need to be engaged in some sort of useful activity, otherwise they find another outlet for their energy.”
“I grew up in Santa Rosa. We had a town square and I remember Sundays all the shops would close and people would go downtown and window shop after church. And never any issues…If there were a few vagrants, the cops all knew them by name and people kinda knew who they were and so they weren’t autonomous and people would kind of give them consequence for what they did. You know, whereas here, everybody’s anonymous and when people are very anonymous, people think they can do more.”
“The Tenderloin has always been a bad area but the addiction wasn’t as bad…the shops didn’t look as nice and occasionally you see some people who just didn’t dress as nice but you didn’t see people really homeless and disheveled like you do now…It was very mild and tame.”
Despite feeling unsafe without the Farmer’s Market, Christy thinks the Civic Center is beautiful.
“I think it’s beautiful. I think it’s really beautiful. I love City Hall. They used to have a long reflecting pool in the area where the trees are. I would like to see that brought back…”
However, she’s not fond of the trees in Civic Center plaza or the fountain in UN Plaza.
“I wish they wouldn’t cut those trees down so much. I have no idea what they do to those trees. Ever since I was a kid, they cut the trees like that and I’ve never understood it. And the concrete fountain. It doesn’t fit the buildings. I think that was with the 70s, 60s brutalism. If they build buildings, I wish that they would not build them modern. I wish they would build them more keeping with the original.”