The Recreation and Park Department Commission on Thursday voted in favor of creating a community garden on the current site of the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council Recycling Center. From the SF Examiner:

A Haight-Ashbury recycling center that started 36 years ago as a community activism project on an asphalt parking lot in Golden Gate Park can expect a 90-day eviction notice today. After two hours of public outcry both supporting and opposing the closure of the center next to Kezar Stadium to make way for community-garden plots and a pedestrian plaza, the Recreation and Park Commission unanimously voted in favor of the change Thursday.

Here’s a report from KGO TV:

The proposal to build a garden and evict the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council recycling center has been the subject of considerable debate if not controversy.

On November 18, Gavin Newsom wrote a letter to Rec and Park and other city officials requesting them to start the process of creating the garden, which by necessity would include the eviction of HANC. An extract:

The HANC center served an important purpose at the beginning of the recycling movement. Currently, however, the recycling tonnage collected at HANC accounts for only about one-tenth of one percent of San Francisco’s total landfull diversion. It is reasonable to expect that those dedicated recyclers that use the facility will take their material to another existing site for proper handling-whether that means bringing bottles and cans with California redemption value to to another redemption center, or using the city’s robust curbside collection program.

Well, as you can imagine, the recycling center doesn’t exactly see it that way. On Wednesday, KQED’s Cy Musiker talked with HANC Recycling Center head Ed Dunn, who claims that Newsom is targeting HANC because of its opposition to the mayor’s Sit/Lie proposal as well as to other administration initiatives. Here is the full interview with Dunn, whose father was involved in the founding of the center in 1974. Dunn recounts the history of the center and gives his rebuttal to a number of arguments for its eviction, including the charge that HANC encourages curbside scavenging by the homeless.

Listen to the full interview:

For an opposing view, Thursday’s C.W. Nevius column in the Chronicle lays it out in blunt fashion:

The arguments in favor of shutting the place seem obvious. It’s an ugly, noisy industrial plant, totally out of place in Golden Gate Park. Everyone loves recycling, but with bins in every driveway, getting in a car and driving to a center is counter-productive. 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. Not only has its day passed, but community gardens would be a much better use.

Even if Park and Rec had voted against the plan, the city attorney’s office had already found that the administration does not need formal commission approval to act on it.

Related material:

Haight Recycling Center Given 30 Days as Rec and Park Opts for Community Garden 3 December,2010Jon Brooks

  • Rec & Park seems to be talking out of both sides of its mouth lately.

    Side 1: they justify commercial ventures in parks around town by citing the need for revenue (this story from ABC7 aired on 12/2:

    Side 2: also on 12/2, they give an eviction notice to the non-profit Recycling Center and Native Plant Nursery that has been paying them rent. Not only will they loose the revenue from the Recycling Center, they now have find funds to convert the site into a garden.

    Maybe if the Center had sold coffee along w/ native plants they would have been viewed as a more appropriate tenant.


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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