K Street Mall’s benches will soon be back.
Sacramento’s Department of Public Works will quickly replace 10 benches plucked from the downtown outdoor mall last week, the mayor’s office announced Monday.
The benches were removed quietly, sparking an outcry from homeless advocates who said the move was designed to discourage people without shelter from loitering in the area. Disabled people and seniors also complained about the bench removal.
Public works director Hector Barron said the removal was part of an effort to upgrade the area, which recently has become a hotspot for downtown diners and revelers. He said it had nothing to do with concerns about homeless people.
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Mayor Darrell Steinberg said he was not consulted on the project, and did not agree with the removal of the benches, which Barron said could be replaced with bike racks or other amenities. Steinberg and Vice Mayor Steve Hansen, who represents the downtown area, issued a joint statement Monday afternoon saying that the benches would be replaced in the coming days.
“It is clear that there is community support for the benches to be reinstalled temporarily while the city conducts a community engagement process,” the statement said.
The two officials said they support the city’s ongoing efforts to address “deferred maintenance” of the K Street corridor by removing “worn, outdated equipment and infrastructure” and improving trash removal and general upkeep of the area.
“Our offices receive calls from pedestrians, downtown workers and small business owners on a daily basis about the deteriorating conditions and frequent public safety issues on K Street,” said Hansen. “Haphazard and inconsistent planning among multiple agencies” have resulted in neglect of the area.
But the benches should not have been taken out in “piecemeal” fashion, Steinberg said last week.
Steinberg and Hansen said the city is “committed to working with stakeholders to figure out how we best address daily complaints from citizens while also replacing seating options that best serve the people who use this key corridor in the city.”