Just as the Board of Supervisors was gearing up to vote at its Mar. 8 meeting on a resolution defending the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) Recycling Center against eviction from Golden Gate Park, Sup. Ross Mirkarimi noted that the Recreation & Parks Department had already filed an unlawful detainer against HANC, the first legal move in an eviction process. "I think that only escalates the matter, in what I believe is an unprincipled way," Mirkarimi said.
"It's very unfortunate that we did have this unlawful detainer action being filed," Sup. David Campos noted. "I am hopeful that the city reconsiders that action."
Mirkarimi had originally drafted the resolution to urge Rec & Park to "rescind the eviction of the HANC Recycling Center from Golden Gate Park."
Board President David Chiu made a move to amend Mirkarimi's resolution, replacing the part about rescinding the eviction with some language calling for Rec & Park to "negotiate in good faith." Mirkarimi's resolution also requested the Rec & Park and the Department of the Environment to establish a "comprehensive Parks recycling program utilizing the expertise, volunteer base, and facilities of the HANC Recycling Center in Golden Gate Park."
Mirkarimi stressed the need for the city to assist HANC in finding a new location, and questioned how the loss of the recycling service offered by HANC could possibly be replaced by vending machines in nearby grocery stores. "We're going to have a people-traffic problem ... I guarantee that that problem's going to escalate exponentially," Mirkarimi said.
Mirkarimi's resolution passed 6-5, with Sups. Scott Wiener, Carmen Chu, Malia Cohen, Sean Elsbernd, and Mark Farrell dissenting. However, the District 5 supervisor acknowledged in his comments that Rec & Park is not accountable to the board, so the resolution may not have any effect on the outcome. "Let's keep in mind, decisions by Rec & Park -- it's one of two commissions citywide whose decisions are not appealable by the Board of Supervisors," Mirkarimi said. "They work as a parallel government." As things stand, Rec & Park commissioners are appointed by the mayor. Alluding to a charter amendment that would have changed that governance to include Board of Supervisors' appointees, Mirkarimi said, "I'm sure soon that that's going to come back."
Reached by phone, Rec & Park Policy and Public Affairs Director Sarah Ballard did not directly answer a question about why Rec & Park went ahead with the legal filings for HANC's eviction before the Board had a chance to vote on Mirkarimi's resolution. "We have plans to build a community garden at that site," Ballard said. "And we'd like to get started."
Eric Brooks, speaking on behalf of Our City, did not mince words during public comment. "This is an agency that is out of control, totally full of itself, and belligerent to the Board of Supervisors and toward the public when it comes to these issues," Brooks said. "I think it's really time for the Board of Supervisors to take strong action to democratize Rec & Park, to change the way that the Rec & Park Commission is constructed so that the Board has a majority of those selected -- until this agency can show that it's not a rogue agency."