June 6 hearing may spell the end of HANC recycling center

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Some beds at HANC's community garden, with the recycling center in the background
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY YAEL CHANOFF

It’s just a triangle of land on Frederick Street, right next to Kezar Stadium. But the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) recycling center has been the subject of years of political battles- and depending on the results of a June 6 hearing, they may get shut down for good.

HANC got an eviction notice in December 2010. HANC’s lawyer, Robert DeVries, successfully challenged the eviction. The Recreation & Parks department sued for eviction again in in June 2011, and that matter may finally come to a close June 6. The Guardian is awaiting comment from Rec & Parks.

In December, the Planning Commission approved a plan to turn the site into a community garden. They meant a garden run by Rec & Parks, not HANC. But HANC got to work building one, and Executive Director Ed Dunn is proud to say that they did so “without a cent of taxpayer money.”

Dunn emphasizes that “over the course of the past year or so the operation has been completely transformed.” The new community garden has 50 beds, which resident gardener Greg Gaar says are divided into about 100 plots, are are planted with mostly native plants that are currently in full bloom.

“We could build one community garden like this per month at no cost to the city,” said Dunn, referencing a recent SPUR report that talked about the benefits and challenges of urban agriculture.

Said Dunn, “we can help fill in some of those challenges.”

The center has a history of working on the cutting edge of environmentally friendly trends. The site at 780 Frederick was established as a recycling center in 1974, a decade before San Francisco implemented curbside recycling. The curbside program became fully operational in the early ‘90s. But 18 recycling centers remain in the city- and state Bottle Bill laws require the existence of recycling centers in "convenience zones." Dunn says the HANC recycling center fulfills the legal requirement to be nearby a recycling center for several supermarkets.

Now, many San Francisco residents rely on curbside recycling, rather than trucking their bottles, cans, and paper products to a recycling center. But a large population uses recycling centers- for excess amounts of recyclables that don’t fit in the bins, other material that doesn’t fit like large cardboard, or to generate income. Those who benefit from money traded for recyclables include housed people looking to supplement income, often immigrants and the elderly, and people living on the streets. But the center's opponents have painted the population it serves as mostly or all homeless, and the city has argued for its eviction on the grounds that the recycling center attracts homeless people to the area.

“[Gavin Newsom] thought the eviction was one way they could ward off camping in Golden Gate Park,” said Dunn.

Some neighbors have raised concerns about the noisy garbage-picking in the nightime, and questioned the need for recycling centers with curbside in place. If the center is shut down, though, it won't signal the end of recycling centers or those who benefit from them. It will likeley change where people go to cash in on recyclables; HANC's recycling center is centrally located, while the majority of  San Francisco's recycling centers are in neighborhoods on the city's borders, including several in Bayview-Hunters Point.

Regardless of the centers effects on the community, HANC’s landlord, Rec & Parks, doesn’t legally need a reason to evict them- they just need to give notice. HANC has fought the eviction, but after almost two years of successful stalling, Rec & Parks may finally succeed.

Comments

Chalk up another win for Calvin Welch.

Posted by marcos on May. 18, 2012 @ 8:39 am

The staff of the HANC Native Plant Nursery has planted an acre of San Francisco native plant gardens in Golden Gate Park from plants propagated at the Center. The gardens have been lovingly maintained for seven years.

Posted by Guest Robby Raven on May. 19, 2012 @ 10:55 am

Allowing right-wing property owners to shut this down would be a tragedy!

Posted by Richard on May. 20, 2012 @ 6:09 am

HANC by its nature attracts a large homeless population. Having this located in a park, doesn't seem to fit. Time to move on.

Posted by D. native on May. 20, 2012 @ 6:59 am

Nice to see HANC building a garden: Ooops! See us? We have morphed into a community garden. Now you can't evict us.

Posted by Troll the XIV on May. 20, 2012 @ 10:17 am

'people who make non-violent redistribution of the wealth impossible' make you know what inevitable

Posted by gregfromtracks on May. 20, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

Good thing the feral NIMBY wasn't rabid. I hear a lot of them are pretty rabid. We need a feral NIMBY abatement program.

Posted by Greg on May. 20, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

This story conveniently leaves out the aspect of the industrial HANC recycling center that enables criminal activity (stealing of recyclables directly from curbside bins). Many years ago, the HANC Recycling Center served an admirable function in the neighborhood, but with the implementation of curbside recycling, the center has turned to a more industrial model. It processes truckloads of recycling from around the city, creating noise and traffic in what is primarily a residential neighborhood. The presence of the recycling center in the neighborhood also encourages pilfering of curbside recycling bins (STEALING), which in turn provides cash to street people and park campers. The ready cash provided by the Center directly supports neighborhood drug and alcohol abuse and negatively impacts the quality of life for families who live in the neighborhoods surrounding the center. It's time for HANC to move out. A zebra can not so easily loose its stripes and this "transformation" into a community garden is a charade on HANCs part. We have a Parks and Rec. department in the city for a reason, to manage our city's park resources in the best interest of all. It's time for HANC to go.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2012 @ 10:09 am

Sore loser...Sour grapes...Grow up.

Posted by counter-Guest on May. 21, 2012 @ 11:41 am

in turn leaves out the facts that fewer than one in six of HANC's recycling customers are street people, let alone Park campers, and they make an even smaller proportion of the money HANC returns to the community, neither does all their money go for drugs and alcohol. There are many people in recovery among HANC's customers who are still homeless, some having been clean and sober for a long time.

By far the largest fraction of HANC's buy-back customers are Asian elders. Their money certainly doesn't go for drugs and alcohol either.

Also people have a right to get their can and bottle deposit money back conveniently, not somewhere far away on the other side of town. Also the idea that a facility such as HANC Recycling could be replaced by anything like seventeen reverse vending machines as has actually been suggested is laughable.

Posted by Guest on May. 21, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

The precedence:
Anybody who is legally evicted from city property can form a Community Garden...

.,..and presto!

NEW LEASE FOR ETERNITY!

Posted by Troll the XIV on May. 21, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

...HANC was very helpful when I moved last year to the Inner Richmond.
I could recycle all my packing and boxes, and there was a lot of it, without having to go all the way across town.

Posted by RickinSF on May. 25, 2012 @ 7:46 am

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