EDITORIAL: Save the HANC recycling center


The foes of the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council recycling center -- including the mayor and Rec-Park Director Phil Ginsberg, who desperately want to get the low-income riff-raff who sell cans and bottles for a living out of the Haight and Inner Sunset -- pulled out all the stops Dec 2, dragging good ol' Chuck Nevius, who's always ready to stand up for what isw clean and well-manicured and free of urban grit, into the fight. The Nevius column in the Chron is almost too perfect; he describes the center as "a noisy, ugly industrial plant" that doesn't belong in Golden Gate Park. Well, the center is technically in the park, I suppose, but it's not exactly smack amid Speedway Meadow or the Arboretum; it's way off on the edge, in an area that most people don't even think of as the park.

But see, here's the real issue:

It is a magnet for the down and out, some of whom use the can and bottle payout as an ATM for booze and drugs, and even raid the neighborhood bins to fill their carts.

Imagine: A magnet for the "down and out" in the Haight. Imagine: A way for people to make some money without panhandling (which Nevius dislikes) or hassling tourists (which Nevius dislikes) or selling drugs (which Nevius dislikes) or stealing (which all of us dislike). Imagine: A community-run institution that actually creates green jobs for people who might otherwise be homeless (and doing things that Chuck Nevius dislikes).

The real issue is that the mayor never liked HANC (since he lives in the Haight, he ought to stop by a HANC meeting sometime; it's really not that scary) and doesn't like the idea of homeless people congregating around the recycling center, and would just as soon get rid of anything that doesn't fit his vision of a squeaky clean, fully gentrified city.

And it's not as if Ginsberg wants to restore that corner of the park to native flora; it will be, in his vision, a community gardening center. Nice, but not exactly a natural space. The new center would also attract small crowds -- but of a very different demographic. Which, again, is what this is all about.

The HANC recycling center does everything that Gavin Newsom claims to support. It provides green jobs. It offers employment opportunities for people who are on the margins of society, and lets them get back on their feet -- without a penny of taxpayer money. It promotes recycling and sound urban ecology.

The private company that collects our garbage and recycling, which is called Recology, doesn't like the fact that poor people go around and collect cans and bottles from the blue bins on the sidewalk; the stuff is worth money, and the company would rather keep it. But in the end, the material goes to the same place and stays out of the landfills, which ought to be the point. And honestly, isn't scavenging and recycling cans and bottles a better occupation than agressive panhandling and crime?

The center's a bargain for San Francisco, and the personal peeves and suburban sensibilities of Newsom, Ginsberg and Nevius shouldn't shut it down. The Recreation and Parks Commission should direct Ginsberg to back off on eviction proceedings and let the center stay.




Email alert from Ted Lowenberg to the civil sidewalks crowd.

Note the misleading language.
For instance, the Recycling Center is referred to as an " industrial waste transfer operation"
What a jerk.
It would be a good idea to use the email links provided to counteract his efforts, and show that most San Franciscans do not oppose neighborhood recycling centers.
Here they are:
recpark.commission@sfgov.org and ross.mirkarimi@sfgov.org and board.of.supervisors@sfgov.org and gavin.newsom@sfgov.org

Take it away, Ted:

I am writing to you to urge you to take action today to help make a change that will improve our city, much like the Civil Sidewalks ordinance, that will have a dramatic effect on strengthening neighborhoods by improving the quality of life. The Rec and Park Department has finally decided that the industrial waste transfer operation being run in Golden Gate Park has out-lived its usefulness. To those of us living near the site, we reached that conclusion decades ago, and have been calling for an end to this non-conforming use of public land. The issue is best described in C.W. Nevius' column today: http://www.sfgate.com/columnists/nevius/ , about fighting for the soul of the city.

You can help in one or two ways to support the installation of a community urban garden center by:
1. Sending an email expressing your support for the concept, to the Rec & Park Commission, with copies to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors. A sample text is included here, so you can simply cut and paste it into an email, copy the mailto links, and click send.
2. Attend the hearing this afternoon at City Hall, room 416. The item is the last on the agenda, and it is expected to begin about 5 PM. It would be great if you could speak your heart on how you feel about this issue. But you don't have to. Simply attending and showing your support will be greatly appreciated.

Your help and support on this matter is greatly appreciated by me and others in the immediate neighborhood. It will also help San Francisco streamline and focus the recycling needs of the city in a way that makes sense. The flaws and inefficiencies of the current system can be improved, which helps to contain the costs of improving our environment.

Thank you. Please act now.

Ted Loewenberg

First, here are the email addresses to send the correspondence to:
recpark.commission@sfgov.org and ross.mirkarimi@sfgov.org and board.of.supervisors@sfgov.org and gavin.newsom@sfgov.org

Next, the sample text for copy and paste into your email program:

Subject: proposed re-use of the industrial recycling center park land

I am writing to support the proposed re-use of the Kezar recycling center as a
community garden and resource center. With the advent of curbside recycling in
the city, the HANC recycling center is a redundant industrial function operating
on park land in the center of a residential neighborhood. It brings unnecessary
noise, traffic, and disruption to what should be a park and public resource.

The use of this site as an urban garden and resource center is much more
consistent with the park use and would provide a locally focused educational
benefit to our neighbors. As a resident of the Haight, I ask that you support
this effort to regain park land in our neighborhood.

Thank you.

Ted Loewenberg
"It's got to come from the heart if you want it to work."

Posted by Guest on Dec. 02, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

How many people moved in next to it and are now bitching about it.

It should be called a Peskin.

Posted by matlock on Dec. 02, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

It must be nice to wake up in the morning knowing exactly what side of any issue that props up you're going to be on, without having to think hard about it. I can only assume from your statement above that you think that all of us like (or at least don't dislike) panhandling, hassling tourists and selling drugs.

As I swept up another set of broken bottles from the weekly scavengers from my sidewalk I was glad that at least one destination for their bottles was gone. We've got a city wide recycling system...shouldn't we just be supporting that? Do we need more public receptacles for people without bins?

Posted by Dave Moore on Dec. 03, 2010 @ 10:22 am

Blaming the recycling center for recycling theft or crimes in the park is really a bogus argument. Please! Besides, can anyone say how eliminating a 36-year-old institution and 10 jobs will do any real good for the Haight? It definitely won't solve what is really a systemic city- and nation-wide problem, the same as Sit/Lie won't solve it. As long as we have a society with high unemployment that treats poor people as "scum" and reserves quality food, housing and health care for a privileged few, we will have an unstable society. Bottle scavengers and property destruction are symptoms of this and will happen all over SF matter what. Closing the center will leave a big hole in the park for months, a closed fence, many sad people. Any "community garden" can't be conjured from thin air. It will take money [from where?], and have to be built from scratch, as one doesn't exist at the site.

Plus, to address Ted Lowenburg's argument that the HANC center is "nonconforming," aren't there parking spaces right down the street that are also part of park land and therefore "nonconforming"? So if we're keeping those... Read up on this, and it's about personalities. Newsom and his people don't like HANC and never have.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 03, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

Listening to the defenders of the HANC Recycling Center, you'd think the place was a resource for the poor, and that efforts to close it down was an attack on the poor.

In fact, however, the center mostly serves to enable addiction.

There are thousands of nomadic addicts and alcoholics living on the city's streets. They rummage through garbage cans throughout the city, looking for recyclables, making a mess everywhere. They take the recyclables to the HANC Center, and other such centers, and get cash back.

With the cash, they buy alcohol and drugs for themselves, get drunk and stoned, and flop out on sidewalks. When they wake up from the stupors, they go out rummaging again for recyclables to pay for their next binges, and the cycle continues, with the blessing of the folks at HANC.

San Franciscans who are poor or who become homeless deserve good care and support. I hope we all agree on this point.

However, it's preposterous to equate such people with the migratory addicts and alcoholics who flock here from elsewhere because so many city institutions enable their addiction.

By all means, let's help San Franciscans who are poor or who become homeless. But let's stop pretending that the HANC Center is anything else but a means to keep addicts and alcoholics awash in drugs and alcohol.

There's nothing progressive about enabling addiction.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Dec. 03, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

The thing has been there for decades, the main reason people want to get rid of it is because it annoys them.

The people who redeem there will just go someplace else to redeem their cans. They are not going to leave the area, maybe for an hour or two longer every couple of days as they head down to Safeway on market. The people who use the place are not going to quit drugs just because its gone, they also are not going to use the services provided by the city. I can understand your views on prop L although I wasn't a fan, but this is a little different.

I do agree that the out of town hobo's should be given a one way trip, and the city should gear services towards locals who have fallen on hard times.

How many people have moved into the area after this opened are complaining about it now?

We need to come up with a name for these people who move to a city or area and want to pattern it after their ideals.

These people move someplace because where they come from supposedly sucks, then because something offends their effete sensibilities they want to; move it, change it, outlaw it, legislate it, tax it away or buzzword it into submission.

My suggestions are:


Some examples.

"He moved to the city from a more conservative area because he didn't like all the conservatives, so he is trying to Redmondate SF."

"Maryland was full of conservatives, so she moved to SF because of the freedoms and decided to Dalybot the area because there were still people left around who were too stupid to agree with her views, she was known to scream fuck you at people who didn't agree"

"with all that trust fund money he could live anywhere in America, he bought a house in North Beach, with all that spare time he got involved in area politics and Peskined the neighborhood"

"After being indoctrinated by college professors he decided to take a job in SF to Jonesify the people of SF to dumb to agree with him"

"After getting out of college and going back to where they came from to save those people, a whole host of people decided to save the citizens of SF by Guardianising them. Two of them meet up after voting for the biggest Dalybot for a few years, they moved away to raise their kids because of the crime and crappy schools"

Posted by matlocker on Dec. 03, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

Gavin "Shoot'em'n" Newsom's 'No Care No Cash' program says "No recycling" either?

Posted by greg on Dec. 03, 2010 @ 11:29 pm

The gang of thieves, Newsom, Phil Ginsburg and Mark Buell need to go. Pretending to do public service as they line their pockets with back room deals. Phoney environmentalists that never saw a corporate deal they didn't like, no matter the impact on our parks and citizens. San Franciscans aren't going to take this much longer. Ever noticed how much security they have? That's because they get threats from people who know exactly what they are doing.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 05, 2010 @ 7:57 am

I have lived in the Upper Haight for 10 years. Every week, without fail, my recycling bins are picked through by various people. Some are homeless and some are people, while not homeless, who exist on a fixed and very limited income. I have to say that, in those 10 years, the people foraging through my recyclables have left a mess for me to clean up only once. Only one time in 10 years. Also, while I have occasionally heard the clink of bottles late at night, most of the time I could tell that the scavengers were making a concerted effort to keep the noise to a minimum.

I also feel strongly that most people are bringing recyclables to HANC in order to get money for alcohol and drugs. To say otherwise would be naive at best and willfully deceptive at worst. However, I think it is inappropriate to try and prevent people from making extra money just because they might spend it on alcohol. If they are drunk in public or disposing of syringes in a dangerous way, then that behavior, and not the act of recycling, is the crime.

Posted by Calvary Kendrick on Dec. 12, 2010 @ 2:22 am

"I also feel strongly that most people are bringing recyclables to HANC in order to get money for alcohol and drugs. "
Posted by Calvary Kendrick on Dec. 12, 2010 @ 2:22 am

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Dec. 12, 2010 @ 3:17 am

I've been doing volunteer drug and alcohol rehabilitation outreach in SF for over 10 years. I also have many years of personal experience with addiction, though I have been sober now for many years. I've also run groups at 850 Bryant focused on helping inmates recognize the causes and pitfalls of the addictions which continually land them in prison. What do you base your opinions on? Wait, never mind. Since you're anonymous, nothing you write about yourself can ever be confirmed or proven.

Posted by Calvary Kendrick on Dec. 12, 2010 @ 10:57 pm