State high court denies recyling center’s request to review eviction

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerNowhere to go: Officials of the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council recycling center say The City is evicting it partly over its support for the homeless community.

California’s Supreme Court has denied the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council’s request to review the eviction of its recycling center, essentially ending the 40-year-old organization’s fight to stay in its home near Kezar Stadium.

The high court ruled last week that it will not hear the case, which means it goes back to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals where the eviction was upheld in July. The center could be forced to leave its two-thirds-of-an-acre site to make way for a community garden within the next 30 days.

Members of the recycling center and neighborhood council could not be reached for comment Sunday, but the organization’s blog called the eviction “outrageous” and said a “human be-in” over the weekend — a gathering to protest the actions of The City’s Recreation and Park Department — raised awareness around the action.

In previous conversations with The San Francisco Examiner, Ed Dunn, executive director of the recycling center, said if the state Supreme Court decided not to intervene, HANC would weigh other legal options and appeal to Mayor Ed Lee.

Lee, however, has given no indication that he intends to reverse the eviction. Additionally, an eviction notice was given to the center in 2011 under Lee’s administration.

The center added garden space last year following The City’s determination to have more community uses at the facility. There also is a native plant nursery that was added in the 1990s.

The facility was first established in the 1970s. By 1987, it had become a designated location for California’s recycling buyback program, where consumers can redeem bottles, cans and glass containers for cash.

Dunn said the center serves as the only redemption location for the surrounding community and seven grocery stores.

“It’s difficult to find a place to serve existing stores,” Dunn said.

However, there are at least a dozen other recycling locations in San Francisco, including one at Market and Laguna streets and Recology’s center near Pier 96.

At the time of the eviction, which was supposed to be June 30, 2011, Rec and Park said it would develop the property into a community garden consistent with the Golden Gate Park master plan.

When the recycling center did not leave by June 2011, a lawsuit was filed. Lower courts ruled in favor of The City. According to court documents, the center maintains that The City’s eviction was an “illegal discrimination against its homeless clientele or in retaliation for criticizing then Mayor Gavin Newsom.”

But in the unpublished 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision, the eviction was affirmed because HANC could not support that the action was retaliatory or could it produce evidence of unlawful discrimination.

Robert De Vries, attorney for HANC, said before the state Supreme Court ruling that the eviction was discriminatory because it came after the organization criticized former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s introduction of the sit-lie law to prevent the homeless from loitering on sidewalks during business hours.

“This is part of nonauthentic, nongentrified San Francisco,” De Vries said. “Certainly it’s true some new people don’t like the old Haight-Ashbury. This is a social issue and I don’t think policy should be based on it.”

City officials maintain that neighborhood groups surrounding the recycling center have concerns about noise, traffic and health. But Dunn said the facility has dozens of supporters who see it as a benefit to the area.

Richmond resident Eugene Wong, for instance, said he was taught how to recycle by staff at the center and continues to use the facility three decades later.

Wong said if the center does close, he might have to cut down on his own cash-redemption recycling.
“They’re recommending we go out to Hunters Point,” he said.

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