Mayor London N. Breed today joined elected officials and community members to break ground on Eagle Plaza in Western SOMA. When completed by the end of the year, Eagle Plaza will serve as a focal point for the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District. Joining Mayor Breed at the groundbreaking were Supervisors Rafael Mandelman and Matt Haney, as well as leaders from the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District, San Francisco Parks Alliance, BUILD Inc., and Friends of Eagle Plaza.
“While we are seeing shameful efforts to marginalize and erase LGBTQ people across our country, here in San Francisco we are dedicating more public space to celebrate our LGBTQ communities,” said Mayor London Breed. “The leather community and all LGBTQ people are an important part of Western SOMA and our City’s past, present, and future. Eagle Plaza will serve as a gathering place for us all to honor these communities that make San Francisco unique, while also creating a much-needed new open space for all of our residents in the neighborhood.”
In January 2019, Mayor Breed introduced legislation, along with co-sponsors Supervisor Mandelman and Supervisor Haney, to permit the construction of a new public gathering space in the Western SOMA neighborhood known as Eagle Plaza. The legislation passed unanimously at the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Breed signed the legislation into law in February 2019. Senator Scott Wiener recently secured $100,000 in State funding to support the Eagle Plaza project and Mayor Breed worked with Supervisor Mandelman to identify an additional $50,000 in her proposed budget to close the remaining funding gap.
“The leather community plays a vital role in our City,” said Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Chair of the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus. “Eagle Plaza will be a huge benefit for the community and a permanent reminder of the leather community’s importance in San Francisco. This year, I was proud to secure $100,000 in funding from the State budget for the Plaza. I look forward to continuing to support this critical project.”
“I’m excited to see the creation of this first-of-its-kind LGBTQ-leather public space moving forward,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. “Eagle Plaza will be an important public meeting place for the leather community during events like Folsom Street Fair and Up Your Alley and will also provide much-needed year-round public park space in SOMA.”
“The leather community and leather bars have contributed so much to LGBTQ culture and identity throughout SOMA and the City of San Francisco. We hear time and again about all the LGBTQ spaces that are closing and being priced out, and I am renewing my commitment to protect these community cornerstones,” said Supervisor Matt Haney. “From the recent establishment of the Leather LGBTQ Cultural District here in Western SOMA to breaking ground on Eagle Plaza, we are demonstrating how serious and committed we are to honoring this important part of our San Francisco Family.”
Largely due to its industrial past, there is a significant lack of public open space in the Western SOMA neighborhood. Eagle Plaza will help address this need as the area continues to experience growth, and it will be designed to recognize the strong cultural influence of the local LGBTQ and leather communities.
Eagle Plaza will transform an approximately 12,500 square foot portion of 12th Street between Harrison and Bernice Streets in San Francisco’s Western SOMA neighborhood into a plaza with a shared public way, in which traffic calming features create a safe space for people of all ages to gather, relax, play, and celebrate. The plaza is designed for both active and passive recreation, with open, hardscape areas that can host neighborhood gatherings, events, and performances.
Additional improvements will include approximately 2,400 square feet of additional landscaping, accent lighting, temporary seating, and a re-grading of sidewalk and roadway paving. Eagle Plaza will stand as an internationally landmarked commemorative public space for Folsom Gulch’s leather and LGBTQ communities and will include a leather pride flag flying above the plaza.
“We are delighted to see the Eagle Plaza come to fruition after all the hard work by so many people,” said Bob Goldfarb, Chair of the Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District. “The Plaza represents a focal point for the Leather and LGBTQ community, which has gathered in this neighborhood for more than 58 years. This community has helped give the City its unique character and is a symbol of the tolerance and acceptance that make this an outstanding place to live and play. At its peak there were more than 55 Leather & LGBTQ bars, clubs and businesses in the neighborhood, now, we count 12. The Plaza is a symbol of the revitalization of the Leather & LGBTQ culture that is underway despite the vast changes in this area.”
“As the only citywide nonprofit dedicated to parks and public spaces in San Francisco since 1971, the SF Parks Alliance is proud to see Eagle Plaza coming to fruition,” said Brooke Ray Rivera, Director of Place Lab at the San Francisco Parks Alliance. “Friends of Eagle Plaza, BUILD, the SF Leather Alliance and Leather Cultural District, the Mayor's Office, City agencies, and hundreds of community supporters have all worked tirelessly with us over the past five years to achieve what some thought impossible: converting a street into a public gathering space, creating the world's first Leather plaza, and successfully implementing a new public-private partnership model that holds great potential to address our city's ever-growing public space needs.”