Construction Begins On McCoppin Hub Fence, In Effort To Clear Homeless Camps [Updated]

Photo: Rose Garrett/Hoodline
By Camden Avery - Published on February 01, 2017.

In the two-and-a-half years since its inauguration, McCoppin Hub—also known as the bit of park where the 101 dumps out onto Market and Octavia streets—has also served as a de facto homeless encampment.

However, after more than a year of deliberations between neighbors, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim and city agencies on how best to clear the space, an anchored temporary hurricane fencing is now installed around the plaza.

As Mission Local reported last summer, the city settled on constructing a fence with three gates for people and two gates for vehicles to enter the plaza during specified hours. The plaza's official hours have not been confirmed, but a represented told the outlet that they may be 7am to sunset, matching the hours of the nearby SoMa West Skate and Dog Park.

While Supervisor Kim's office secured funding for the fence and led the push to finalize the plans, not all of her constituents stand behind the idea of enclosing the plaza and locking the fence at any hour. At a community meeting in September 2015, a third of the residents in attendance were opposed to "privatizing" the space, arguing that the fence would simply push campers elsewhere in Western SoMa.

While the newly erected temporary barrier appears to block all access to the plaza, at least one homeless man was seen being roused from sleep inside the fencing by SFPD officers shortly after 8am today.

We've contacted the Department of Public Works, which is responsible for the fence planning and implementation, for more information on the final fence design, park hours and access to the plaza during construction, and will update this post if and when we hear back.

Update, 3:12pm: John Gavin, the plaza coordinator from the city's Real Estate Division—the agency responsible for McCoppin Hub—said in a phone call this afternoon that for all intents and purposes the hub is currently considered a construction zone and closed for the time being.

Gavin said the installation of a permanent fence was considered as part of the original redesign of the space but that because the community was split on that design at the time, they decided to put it on hold and reconsider later.

But "there was a lot of abuse of the site and intimidation by people that frankly were doing illegal activities," Gavin said. Asked if it was meant to clean up homelessness in the area, he said, "I wouldn't say that. ... There's a lot of illegal activity that was occurring and it was to the detriment of the neighborhood being able to enjoy the rest of the open space. Lots of different drug using, drug dealing, bicycle part chop-shop type of activity."

Gavin said that future hours of park operation are currently not set in stone, and that they're seeking community feedback.

Following a planning meeting tomorrow morning, Gavin said he'd have more information about the construction timeline and groundbreaking schedule, but that it depends on when materials are available. We'll keep you posted.

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