Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Arts & Culture
Published on May 01, 2024
$25M For Harvey Milk Plaza Redo Included in Mayor Breed's Proposed Bond MeasureImage courtesy of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza

On Monday, Mayor London Breed proposed a $360 million bond measure for the November election — including $25 million for the redo of Harvey Milk Plaza at the Castro Muni station.

If voters approve the bond measure, the funding will help move the project closer to the $35 million needed to begin construction.

The bond measure includes $167 million for the city's hospital systems, $50 for family homeless shelters, and $70 for street safety and paving.

The proposal needs the support of eight Board of Supervisors members before it's placed on the November ballot. The measure would require two-thirds approval to pass.

The proposed redesign of Harvey Milk Plaza includes a canopy of the escalator. | Image courtesy of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza


“This bond will invest in our critical infrastructure and advance projects that create jobs and prioritize important civic needs. It will create safer streets and smoother roads, deliver welcoming and vibrant plazas and public spaces, support families, and strengthen our public health institutions that serve all of our residents. This is how we build a stronger, thriving San Francisco," said Mayor London Breed in a release.

The Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza (FHMP) and its supporters have pursued the redesign project since 2017. In that time, the project has taken on many forms and received multiple approvals.

Current design features include "The Pedestal," an elevated platform at the intersection of Castro and Market streets; "The Beacon," a digital display on the new elevator; "The Grove," a memorial tree grove close to Collingwood; and "The Gallery," an art display on the Castro Muni station mezzanine level.

Other design features include an expanded plaza area, a candlelight vigil light display, a pink glass canopy over the stairway and elevator, and an oculus lightwell.

Overview of the design changes proposed by FHMP and SWA Group. | Image courtesy of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza


"For well over two decades, the community has been trying to reimagine Harvey Milk Plaza to better represent Harvey, his politics, and the civil rights movement that occurred in the Castro," FHMP executive director Brian Springfield tells Hoodline.

"The funding included in this bond measure will ensure that there can be a world-class civic space at the historic intersection of Castro & Market Streets that will include some much-needed improvements to the transit functions that share the site," added Springfield.

Springfield stated that fundraising is underway to secure an additional $7.2 million for commemorative elements.

"It's amazing news! The Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza and city staff have done great work to get us a shovel-ready project, and if we can get this bond passed, we will finally have a clear path to giving the Castro the iconic public space Harvey deserves," District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman told the Bay Area Reporter.

Castro Station and plaza under construction (1977). | Photo: OpenSFHistory


Castro Station officially opened to subway service on June 11, 1980, less than two years after Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone's assassination.

“This bond measure will make possible the Memorial at Harvey Milk Plaza, so that it can be a beacon to others all over the world; its very existence will give hope to people who need it," said Cleve Jones, LGBTQ rights activist and founder of the NAMES Project Memorial Quilt.

"And it is my hope that it inspires others all across the world to become a hero in their own communities, because the world needs a lot more people like my friend, Harvey Milk," added Jones.

Candlelight vigil light display leading back to the memorial grove. | Image courtesy of Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza


Board of Supervisors President and mayoral candidate Aaron Peskin was quick to share his criticism of the bond measure as an attempt to garner votes.

"Every dollar that we don’t spend on significant capital needs exponentially increases our costs as vital building systems continue to fail,” Peskin told the SF Standard. “The bottom line is doing nice vanity projects that may garner votes abandons the capital plans and accepted findings that we have to attend to our critical needs.”

Ultimately, Peskin could play a decisive role in approving the bond measure. The proposal will first need the approval of the city's Capital Planning Committee before heading to the Board of Supervisors.

In response to the criticism and its potential impact on funding for City Clinic, Jones tells Hoodline that he and FHMP "never asked for this or lobbied for this." Jones stated they were not aware these funds were designated for other city projects.

Rendering of the new four-stop glass elevator. | Image: SFMTA


The project has already received a significant amount of state and federal funding. State Senator Wiener has directed $2.5 million in state funding to the project.

In March, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi secured $500,000 for the project as part of the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024. Pelosi was unsuccessful in securing the full $5 million she had sought for the project.

Originally, the redesign of Harvey Milk Plaza was supposed to occur in twain with the long-delayed Castro Station Accessibility Improvements project. That project, which includes a new four-stop glass elevator, kicked off last summer.