The city's eviction of HANC's recycling center could harm local businesses along with the gardeners and recyclers
So much for the holiday spirit.
In a win for the NIMBY neighbors of the Haight neighborhood, the Haight Ashbury Recycling Center was gifted with its final eviction notice, ordering it out on the street by the day this story goes to print, Dec. 5.
But those who hoped this eviction would rid the neighborhood of poor people recycling bottles and cans may be disappointed — and so might local small businesses that could face some unintended consequences of the move.
The site, run by the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC), houses a community garden, native plant nursery, and recycling center. HANC battled eviction for nearly a decade as newer neighborhood associations complained to the city, saying the center was too noisy and attracted too many homeless people.
The recycling center is located at the edge of Golden Gate Park behind Kezar stadium, and has been crushing cans and busting bottles since 1974.
The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department issued several eviction notices to HANC over the years, and the process seemed to drag on, but the eviction notice from the Sheriff's Department on Nov. 28 is likely the last nail in the coffin.
"We've exhausted our legal options," Ed Dunn, HANC's director, told us.
Even Sup. Christina Olague, who has championed HANC as one of their few supporters on the current Board of Supervisors, said that the recycling center was done, although representatives from Sup. Eric Mar's office told us they were still hopeful the eviction could be delayed long enough to relocate HANC somewhere else.
Olague told us that she'd talked to Mayor Ed Lee about the issue many times, and they discussed many options. But with the finality of the eviction notice, she said, "I just don't know what we can do."
COAL FOR CHRISTMAS
The recycling center's employees will lose their jobs just at the start of the winter holiday season. "The notion that they'd put people out of work before Christmas was horrendous," Dunn said.
What will happen to HANC's 10 employees is up in the air. "I have no idea what I'll do," HANC employee Brian McMahon told us, lowering his orange protective headphones to talk. He's worked there since 1989, and his last job was at a Goodwill store. "The quote under my high school yearbook picture says 'take it as it comes,' and that's what I'm going to do."
Susan Fahey, the sheriff's media relations officer, declined to discuss the details of how the officers would handle the eviction, saying only that "we plan accordingly."
A staff report prepared for the Recreation and Park Commission's Nov. 20 meeting estimated that just 0.1 percent of San Francisco's recycling tonnage is processed at HANC, according to a report by citizen journalist Adrian Rodriguez. The agenda also said that the Department of Environment was confident that recyclers would use other nearby sites instead.
But the customers at HANC that we talked to didn't agree.
"I think it's necessary they have the [recycling center] here," HANC customer Eugene Wong told us. Wong lives in the Haight, and hauls in his recyclables every six months or so for some extra pocket money. As Wong and his friend Bob Boston spoke, one of their Haight Ashbury neighbors, Rory O'Connor, surprised them as he walked up.
"Just droppin' off my beer cans, man," O'Connor said. Asked if he would make his way out to the Bayview recycling center when HANC closed, he said, "You'll spend more on gas than you would even get back."
There were quite a few neighborhood locals there that day, and more people drove into the recycling center than there were people pushing shopping carts. But it's the folks with the shopping carts that had HANC's opponents up in arms.