Editorial: New Mayor Ed Lee should stop the recycling eviction

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Mayor Ed Lee needs to demonstrate, as we noted in last week's editorial, that he's making a clean break from the politics and policies of the Newsom administration and there are things he can do immediately to reassure San Franciscans that he's going to offer more than another 11 months of a failed administration.

He can start by calling off the eviction of the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Recycling Center.

The move by Newsom to evict the recycling center, on the edge of Golden Gate Park, was part of his administration's war on the poor. It made no sense from a financial or environmental perspective. The center, which pays rent to the city, would be replaced by a community garden, which would pay nothing. The center creates green jobs that pay a living wage; all the workers would be laid off under Newsom's plan. The center also operates a native plant nursery and provides a drop-off recycling site for local businesses.

A community garden makes only limited sense in a shady area that gets fog most of the year.

The only reason Newsom was determined to get rid of the place is that low-income people who collect bottles and cans around the city (an environmentally positive activity, by the way) come by the center to drop them off and pick up a little cash. Some of the wealthier residents of the Haight don't like poor people wandering through their neighborhood. It's class warfare, declared by the Newsom administration and Lee, who got his start as a poverty lawyer, doesn't have to tolerate it.

Lee should direct the Recreation and Parks Department to cease the eviction proceedings and negotiate a long-term lease for the Frederick Street site.

It seems like a small item in the long list of issues the new mayor will have to deal with but the HANC recycling center has strong symbolic importance. Ending the eviction and allowing the center to stay would be a sign that Lee intends to be a mayor who is willing to work with the progressives and that he's not going to try to solve all the city's problems by blaming, harassing, and criminalizing people who are barely surviving in San Francisco.

The new mayor could take another simple step toward broad credibility by opening up his office to the public and the press. Under Newsom, Room 200 was an unfriendly place to outsiders, and often the news media were treated as enemies. Lee should start holding regular press conferences not just stage-managed events designed to showcase one issue, but broad-ranging, open sessions where reporters can ask questions about anything his administration is doing. And he ought to direct his press office to make compliance with the Sunshine Ordinance a priority.

For starters, he could release whatever proposed budget cuts Newsom left behind. It's hard to believe the former mayor just turned them over to Lee without a list of things that were on the chopping block. The sooner the public sees where the previous administration was going, the sooner we can all determine what, if anything, Lee will do differently.  

Comments

The Guardian and its staff do. And I'm thinking it's going to be a while until Lee offers those reassurances you're so desperately seeking.

In case you've forgotten Newsom was reelected with 70%+ of the vote. The only people screeching for a "clean break" with his policies are The Guardian. You already played every card you're holding during the calamitous and ultimately unsuccessful campaign to force a far-left candidate as mayor onto the city. And in case you've forgotten - you lost.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 18, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

Some responses, Bruce, to your latest pronouncement.

You say:

“Mayor Ed Lee needs to demonstrate, as we noted in last week's editorial, that he's making a clean break from the politics and policies of the Newsom administration…”

Why? Just because you say so? That’s not a good enough reason. Newsom enjoyed the highest percentage approval rating of any elected official in the city. So why try to undo his policies?

You say:

“The move by Newsom to evict the recycling center, on the edge of Golden Gate Park, was part of his administration's war on the poor.”

Don’t be ridiculous. The center is an industrial processing center, located in a park that was designed for recreational use, supported with a sweetheart contract with a privileged nonprofit, and detrimental to the neighborhood.

You say:

“The center, which pays rent to the city, would be replaced by a community garden.”

Shocking! How can we let something like this happen in SF!

You say:

“The center creates green jobs that pay a living wage.”

The center is a useless left-over from another era. The city has a grave financial crisis. It has to cut back on jobs that are unnecessary or detrimental to the common good.

You say:

“Some of the wealthier residents of the Haight don't like poor people wandering through their neighborhood.”

You’re starting to believe your own rhetoric!

The center is mostly used by migratory addicts and alcoholics. They ransack the recycling bins of neighbors of all classes in the Haight. They take their booty to the recycling center, which pays them in cash. They use the money to get drunk and stoned.

Please stop enabling addiction in the Haight.

You say:

“It's class warfare.”

Wow, you’re starting to sound like Tommi Avicolli Mecca. Is this the best bumper sticker that you can come up with?

The days are past when you can issue doctrinal fatwas, devoid of rationality and factuality, and expect the city to bow down and say “Amen.”

Even some of the sycophants who surround you are aware of this fact, but they are afraid to tell you to your face.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jan. 18, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

Your claim that Newsom's administration was "a failed administration" is way off the mark. Name any other city administration that has accomplished as much in seven years. Was everything perfect under Newsom? Far from it. But you should at least give credit where credit is due. Gavin Newsom did more to improve the city and make it more environmentally friendly than all your failed rants about public power ever dreamed of accomplishing.

Secondly, the jobs of the people working at the industrial recycling facility run by HANC are HANC's responsibility. The group has failed to anticipate the obvious, and that they must operate without a subsidy from the City and the State. Their failure to plan to keep running a profitable enterprise is why their workers will loose their jobs. They are not being laid-off by the City. Instead of trying to alter reality, you should be helping HANC find a suitable industrial location near your office to continue their business, and to keep it profitable.

That's right. Your business is to mouth off. Not to actually do anything that makes a difference.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

As a long-time HANC board member and resident of the Haight Ashbury I am strong supporter of community recycling as it is practiced at the HANC recycling center. At the rigged Rec&Park Commission hearing, 70 people spoke in favor of the recycling center and only 30 spoke against it. My guess is that is the neighborhood opinion as well. Every issue in San Francisco has a pro and con. The HANC recycling center is no exception, but community garden advocates spoke at the hearing against locating this type of community garden at this location.
I hope that Mayor Lee follows Mr. Brugmann's advice to stop this eviction and show his support for the environment and not continue the class warfare that former Mayor Newsom had against people who are working at the lower rungs of the economic ladder. I would welcome a public forum on this issue with recycling center opponents, but so far they have refused our offers. The only other public discussion occurred at SF Open Space Committee and they voted 9-4 to stop the eviction.

Posted by Jim Rhoads on Jan. 20, 2011 @ 10:15 am

It is being invited to relocate.

If it is currently paying a market rent, it should easily find another premises at about the same cost.

If it is not currently paying a market rent, then it is being subsidized by the taxpayer. And, as a private business, it's not clear to me why that should be.

After 30 odd years of being coddled, let HANC now stand on it's own feet.

Posted by Tom on Jan. 20, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

In a comment above, Jim Rhoads says:

"I hope that Mayor Lee follows Mr. Brugmann's advice to stop this eviction and show his support for the environment and not continue the class warfare ..."

It won't do to deny the facts about addiction and pretend that the issue is one of class warfare.

The Haight, like a number of other neighborhoods, is thronged by packs of nomadic addicts and alcoholics. They come here from across the nation in search of easy access to drugs and weak law enforcement.

They are a cross-section of America, coming from every economic class, from richest to poorest. They have no money because they spend whatever they have, or can get, on alcohol and/or drugs. That's what they all have in common.

Their behavior is destructive to themselves, the environment, and residents and passers-by. They are not aware of their abusive behavior at the time they engage in it, and they don't remember it later. They are part of a toxic subculture that validates addiction. Many refuse available services.

The Haight Recycling Center enables this addictive subculture. It serves as a device for migratory addicts and alcoholics to convert other people's recyclables into cash for themselves, to be spent on drugs and alcohol.

For the sake of the common good, and to help break the pattern of enabling addiction, close down the Haight Recycling Center.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jan. 20, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

As a resident of the Haight I have to say that while there are a number of people who participate publicly in the "toxic subculture" you describe, I am witness to the day in and day out positive industriousness that the Recycling Center and Native Plant Nursery provides. The Recycling Center does not enable poverty, mental illness or addiction. Do you also see bread lines and any other services to the poor as enabling?

Do you think that the elderly are being enabled when they get their deposit money back?

Is my back yard and front stoop being enabled to grow beautiful local flora... oh wait... I guess that is being enabled. I just don't want to buy commercial plants from home depot or target, sorry. I know, it's a problem.

I guess when I return my bottles for my $5 it enables me to drink more imported beer. Oh it's okay. Whole Foods Market needs that deposit money more than I do.

For the sake of the common good, which I fully participate in, please recycle your waste at the Recycling Center. If you really want to rag on dysfunctional alcoholics who abuse the common good, head over to Plumpjack.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 3:58 pm

Hallelujah!!!!!

Posted by Matty on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 4:24 pm