Garden replacing Haight-Ashbury recycling center

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.

The Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council Recycling Center has been the subject of years of debate. Neighbors and political officials for nearly a decade have argued that the center is outdated and noisy and does not belong in a park because it attracts homeless people.

However, supporters told commissioners that the center was a convenience since they do not all have their own recycling bins, and that it has taught them how to be “green” through services such as grease drop-offs. Many praised its devotion to the community.

“It started some time around Earth Day when a bunch of us decided we really needed a recycling center;” said Jim Rhoads, the recycling chair of the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, which runs the nonprofit center. “But now they want to turn the old Kezar parking lot into a soil remediation project.”

Just before the vote, commission President Mark Buell said if the Recreation and Park Department did not take action Thursday, the center, which has run on a month-to-month lease for nearly five years, would continue to serve as a political football.

“This is a park,” Buell said. “Is [a community garden] the perfect use? I’m not at liberty to say.”

Also, the commission’s decision to accept the community-garden designs and urge park staff to issue the eviction notice will result in 10 people losing their jobs. A representative from Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office said there is no other public space in the vicinity available to the center.

 

Next steps

Recreation and Park Department staff said the first phase in the creation of a community garden will be to form an advisory board that will hold at least three public meetings focusing on plans for demolition, soil remediation and gardens.

  • Price: $250,000
  • Garden plots: 40
  • Features: Outdoor classroom, pedestrian gateway entry, greenhouse, nursery
  • HANC Recycling Center’s age: 36
  • Tons of recycling per month: About 150
  • Monthly customers: About 3,000

Sources: Rec and Park, HANC

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