Emergency forum Tues. / 30 on HANC recycling center eviction

The HANC recycling center
photo by Rebecca Bowe

An emergency community forum will be held tonight, Nov. 30, about the Recreation and Parks Department’s plan to evict the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) Recycling Center from a parking lot in Golden Gate Park. If Mayor Gavin Newsom and his former chief of staff, Rec & Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg, succeed in their plan to evict the 36-year old recycling center, they’ll kill 10 green jobs, eliminate a rare source of income for poor people, and put an end to a community resource that costs San Francisco taxpayers nothing.

HANC believes the recycling center is being targeted by Newsom’s administration as a form of political payback, since the progressive organization opposed Proposition L, the sit / lie ordinance, which Newsom supported.

Ginsburg wants to evict the recycling center, which pays rent to the city, and replace it with a community gardening center that would cost $250,000. The shaded lot doesn't seem like an ideal site for growing produce.

A memo issued Nov. 29 from Ginsburg to Rec & Park Commissioners notes that it is legal for the department to move forward with the eviction without commission approval. Apparently, Newsom’s administration intends to send 10 people to the unemployment line and kick a 36-year-old green resource to the curb without any public input, despite receiving 400 postcards from San Francisco residents opposing the eviction. The Rec & Park Commission will take up the issue of the new community garden center at its Thurs., Dec. 2 meeting.

Tonight's emergency forum, organized by Keep Arboretum Free, is an attempt to open up a space for public dialogue.

A stakeholder meeting took place this afternoon with Ginsburg, District 5 Sup. Ross Mirkarimi, Department of the Environment Director Melanie Nutter, representatives from the San Francisco Police Department, represenatives from the offices of Assembly Member Tom Ammiano and City Attorney Dennis Herrera, HANC, and area residents.

Jim Rhoads of the HANC Recycling Center told the Guardian just after the meeting, "They're going to evict us by the end of December. That's their goal. The mayor has it in for us and he wants to get us out before he leaves."

The recycling center, located at Frederick and Arguello streets, operates a buyback program for recyclable materials as well as a San Francisco native plant nursery. Residents from the Inner Sunset Park Neighbors have voiced complaints about “quality-of-life issues” that they link with some of the center’s patrons. During buyback hours, held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., people arrive with shopping carts filled of cans and bottles to exchange for small amounts of cash. Some of them are homeless.

Representatives from HANC, Rec & Park, and the Inner Sunset Park Neighbors have been invited to speak at tonight’s forum. “There are strongly felt opinions on both sides,” a flier for the event notes. “In the interest of a broad discussion, a number of long time local residents organized this forum for a full public airing of the issues prior to the Dec. 2 Commission meeting.”

The forum will be held tonight, Tuesday, Nov. 30, from 7 to 9 p.m. at St. John of God, 5th Avenue at Irving St.

To voice your opinion about Rec & Park’s plan to evict HANC, call Phil Ginsburg at 415-831-2701 or email him at Philip.Ginsburg@sfgov.org.