A 36-year-old recycling center in Golden Gate Park that has been a source of neighborhood feuding for decades is getting closer to the possibility of shutting down. While nothing is in stone, it has been brought to the media’s attention (some of whom applaud the possibility) that Mayor Newsom is seriously considering it.
The recycling center is operated by the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC), who leases the land next to Kezar Stadium from the city. The HANC recycling center sent out a press release Tuesday morning condemning the Mayor’s alleged plans. The closure of the recycling center will result in the loss of ten green jobs, they say.
Other neighborhood groups and police claim that the center is a magnet for crime and homeless people. Residents complain that the homeless raid their curbside recycling and leave a mess. (Is it just me or isn’t that pretty much a city wide thing?) Others say that the center has “outlived its time,” citing “anecdotal evidence…that having a recycling ATM in the park is a bad idea.”
Lena Emmery, President of the Cole Valley Improvement Association says that the recent beating that killed a 53-year-old homeless man near the facility was “the straw that broke the camels back”.
Ed Dunn, the director of the recycling center, dismisses the claims that the homicide is linked to the center. “It was about as close to the police station as it was to the recycling center,” Dunn said.
HANC Operations Manager Charlie Lamar also disputes the connection to illegal street activity and homeless people in the press release. “Fewer than one in five of our customers sleep outside and more than half come in cars” Lamar claims.
HANC also operates a native plant nursery at the site. Mayoral spokesperson Tony Winnicker told the Chronicle that the nursery could be incorporated into alternative uses for the space, such as a community garden.
Mark Westlind, spokesperson for the Department of the Environment, says that the center accounts for one tenth of one percent of the city’s total waste diverted from landfills. He claims the material would likely be absorbed through curbside pickup or another recycling center.
However, HANC’s press release claims that the city is already underserved by recycling centers. Dunn says “San Francisco has only one recycling center for every 44,000 residents whereas across the State you’ll find one for every 18,000”.
HANC has created a video petition that shows a diverse group of forty-seven customers voicing their support for the center. View it here with the password: HANC.