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Cleaning grime, stopping crime at 24th Street BART

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Anthony Golson is always wary of the shady characters loitering in the plaza surrounding the 24th Street BART station, but he said he didn’t know some would stoop to the level of stealing his kids’ lunch money.

“My kids used to transfer [buses] here to go to school,” the 57-year-old San Francisco resident said. “It got so bad I had to start going with them.”

With crime and grime a daily problem at the dodgy transit plaza at 24th and Mission streets — particularly at night — residents and businesses are eagerly backing plans by BART, which owns the station, and The City to make improvements to the area that could result in better security.

The preliminary proposal for upgrades to the area includes removing the raised planters on the southern and western sides of the plaza, according to BART Director Tom Radulovich.

Getting rid of the planters on the west side of the plaza will connect the site to Osage Alley, making the alley feel safer, Radulovich said. Additional upgrades, including new trees and a mural, are planned to enliven the site.

“It’s definitely good to have improvements that can make the neighborhood more safe,” said Erick Munoz, an employee at Ria, a money-exchange business near 24th and Mission streets.

Crime around the station, though lower than other nearby transit stops, remains a concern for many of the passengers who stream in and out or linger at Muni bus stops.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, 166 offenses have occurred within 500 feet of 24th and Mission streets, San Francisco police reported. There were 30 assaults, 26 incidents of larceny or theft, 11 robberies, eight vandalisms and four carjackings, according to police.

That number, however, is much lower than the 687 offenses that occurred at the BART station at 16th and Mission streets during the same period, including 200 drug and narcotics cases, 49 assaults and 14 vandalisms, police said.

Nevertheless, around noon Monday near the 24th Street station, people were openly drinking, homeless were laying near station escalators and the stench of trash and urine wafted around the area.

Last week, police responded to an assault and reports of a heavily intoxicated person in the station area, according to reports. The previous week, they responded to a report that a person had a knife. The week before, another person had a knife and there was a robbery and an assault.

In addition to the safety upgrades, the proposal calls for transit upgrades that include new bus stops on 24th and Mission streets.

On Thursday, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a regional group that allocates transit funding, will consider doling out millions to help fund the project.

maldax@sfexaminer.com