Supervisor Bevan Dufty: Castro Benefits District (CBD)
In 2005, I led the effort to establish a Community Benefit District (CBD) for the Castro. At that time, I had served as District 8 Supervisor for three years and was in a constant catch-up mode trying to keep our busy commercial district clean and inviting to residents and visitors alike.
CBDs are smaller versions of the Union Square Business Improvement District. Commercial property owners are assessed to fund services that clean, green and patrol the area.
While the City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) does an excellent job, there are property owner responsibilities for power washing and steam cleaning sidewalks and public areas that were not consistently adhered to.
Once the Castro CBD was formed and ratified by the Board of Supervisors, I reached out to a firm whose work I had admired with the Yerba Buena CBD. MJM Management, led by Mary McCue, had transformed the area that includes Yerba Buena Gardens and convention facilities. I was heartened when Mary agreed to bid on providing the cleaning and maintenance services for the Castro and not surprised when they were selected.
Mary and her husband Bryan have entirely lived up to my hopes and expectations as the lead contractors for the Castro CBD. Our neighborhood is challenging given the mix of neighborhood-serving retail and nighttime establishments. MJM closely coordinates with DPW so that the City continues to make its contribution to improving the Castro. But the CBD has been a steady, consistent presence and the constant refrain about the dirtiness of the Castro has virtually disappeared.
So I was surprised when a story in the September issue of the Courier focused on merchant criticism of the CBD. Periodically I have fielded concerns from merchants wanting more attention in terms of sidewalk cleaning. And I have a good relationship with a business owner who has expectations, frequently expressed to me in person and by e-mail, that aren’t realistic in my estimation. But I have a level of confidence about the attention being given to keeping the Castro clean that wouldn’t exist without the CBD and, specifically, MJM Management.
I see street sweeping every day of the week and power washing takes place five hours every day. The Castro CBD encompasses a very large area extending along Market Street and up Castro Street. There continue to be problem hotspots, such as on Church Street between Duboce and 14th streets.
The CBD invests tremendous resources, but the City is struggling to address the street population through outreach, case management and police when laws are violated. I make a point of greeting CBD crews and am impressed that they are always gracious in response. The CBD also supports expanded services by Officer Jane Warner and the SF Patrol Specials on weekend evenings.
The Castro’s Future
I am also impressed with the ways in which the Castro CBD has brought together merchants to plan for our neighborhood’s future. You can view the Neighborhood Beautification and Safety Plan at castrocbd.org.
This plan evolved from three community workshops and five neighborhood focus groups. It outlines a vision for an improved streetscape and pedestrian realm that offers a blueprint for local, state and federal support. It also connects with the recently adopted Upper Market Plan and the work by the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association to expand Muni’s track-replacement project at Duboce and Church streets to include more streetscape enhancements.
Right now, we’re working with DPW on a temporary closure of 17th Street by the Twin Peaks Tavern to create the space to test the potential for a plaza in the area. This could improve pedestrian safety and ad an addition to our public realm where people can gather and enjoy the Castro. It is also a laboratory to test street furniture and other improvements to get public input before they are more broadly implemented.
I am very pleased with the service, vision and leadership provided by the CBD. I invite you to become more aware of their efforts and involved with their outstanding Board of Directors and Executive Director, Andrea Aiello, to further improvements of the Castro.
Regular monthly CBD Board of Directors meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the Castro Community Room, above the Bank of America building (501 Castro St.) at 18th and Castro streets. Meetings are open to the public. Agendas for each meeting will be posted at castrocbd.com 72 hours before the meeting date.