The City and County of San Francisco voluntarily dismissed an eviction notice it had issued to the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council Recycling Center, but then the Recreation & Parks Department promptly sent a new one with a deadline of June 30.
The HANC recycling center and native plant nursery has continued operating in Golden Gate Park's Kezar Triangle despite an effort initiated last year under former Mayor Gavin Newsom to evict the facility. The recycling center, which also offers compost for urban gardeners and a place to drop off used veggie oil, has been in Golden Gate Park for decades and has formed partnerships with community gardening projects throughout the city.
Rec & Park started making plans to replace it with a community garden last year amid concerns about "quality of life" issues. Some neighbors were bothered by recyclers filling up shopping carts with containers plucked from their sidewalk recycling bins, to trade in for small amounts of cash. Members of HANC, meanwhile, saw the eviction as political payback from Newsom, who encountered stiff opposition from the progressive neighborhood group when he led the charge to place San Francisco's sit / lie ordinance on the ballot.
The request for dismissal, filed May 26 in San Francisco Superior Court and signed by Attorney David Ammons in the office of City Attorney Dennis Herrera, doesn't provide a clear reason for the move. But Robert De Vries, HANC's attorney, said the tactic was likely meant to avert legal entanglement by dissolving the first, and more legally problematic, attempt at eviction and replacing it with a new one that may be harder to challenge in court. In a letter to Rec & Park commissioners dated Dec. 2, 2010, De Vries wrote that the first eviction notice was illegal under the structure of the lease that HANC had signed with the city, and asserted that HANC could legally possess the property until June 30, 2011.
Because the dismissal of the first eviction was done "without prejudice," there was nothing preventing Rec & Park from issuing a new eviction notice, which it did the same day. Rec & Park did not respond to an email seeking comment.
"Your attorney has argued in court that the notice was not effective to terminate the lease," notes a May 26 letter from Rec & Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg. "While we continue to believe that we gave you more than adequate notice of the Lease termination and to disagree with the assertion that the Lease has continued on a year-to-year basis, to avoid that dispute, we are superseding the earlier notice with this one."
HANC's Jim Rhoads told the Guardian that he wasn't very surprised by Rec & Park's latest move. "We knew this would happen," he said. "We're going to meet with our lawyers, and decide on the legal front what we do next."
De Vries said he could not discuss all the possible legal angles that HANC could use to try and fight the eviction, but he hinted that the eviction could be considered retaliatory. "This ... termination was initiated under Newsom as payback for my client [for opposing] sit / lie," he said.