Residents have voiced complaints about the shopping-cart recyclers, some of whom are homeless. The Inner Sunset Park Neighbors (ISPN), which is petitioning Rec and Park to evict the recycling center, has a message posted on its website linking the shopping-cart pushers with "quality-of-life issues such as aggressive panhandling, drug use/dealing, and public safety." ISPN also charges that the recyclers swipe cans and bottles from rolling curbside bins. The neighborhood group had not responded to requests for an interview by press time.
Rhoads believes that if the recycling buyback program is removed, it would only encourage panhandling — after all, people already lacking basic resources would lose a critical source of income. "People will be very desperate," he said. According to the results of a HANC survey, one in six recyclers regularly turning up at the center to exchange bottles for cash sleeps outside.
The Recreation and Park Commission will discuss the possible HANC eviction at its Dec. 2 meeting. And since the recycling center is on a month-to-month lease, the 36-year-old green resource could soon suffer eviction. There's likely to be significant resistance, since the HANC Recycling Center has forged partnerships with urban-agriculture projects throughout the city.
It was a fiscal sponsor of the Garden for the Environment and donated several tons of cardboard for mulching at Hayes Valley Farm. The HANC nursery project has distributed plants to urban agriculture projects throughout the city, including school garden plots, urban habitat corridors designed to protect rare species, and the Mission Greenbelt Project, a network of sidewalk gardens in the Mission.
Details on the proposed garden resource center that would be installed in lieu of the HANC Recycling Center are sketchy. An artist's rendering of the plan, drawn up by the city's Department of Public Works, envisions an outdoor classroom amphitheatre, raised garden beds, a semi dwarf orchard, and a composting area. However, Guardian inquiries to Rec and Park requesting more specific details about funding and operation went unanswered by press time.