Posts tagged ‘Eco’

Safeway Recycling Center Eviction Update

by Ed Dunn


Not only is Safeway turning its back on recycling, but now the San Francisco Chronicle is too. The Chronicle ran an editorial today against the California Redemption Value law. That, of course, is the law that governs California’s overwhelmingly successful bottle and can deposit program, which has pushed California to a 84% recycling rate.

You already know how important recycling centers are for the environment and that curbside recycling is not enough. You already know that this anti-recycling center campaign is more about property values rather than California Redemption Value.

Please help me spread the word by sending the petition link on to your friends.

And contact Safeway :

Safeway Corporate Headquarters
5918 Stoneridge Mall Road
Pleasanton, CA 94588

Send an aluminum can to the Chronicle.  Just flatten it,  put into an envelope with a first class stamp and address it to :

San Francisco Chronicle
901 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103



Olague on Sit/Lie and Urban Agriculture Events

Stop by Kezar Gardens Mon-Sat from 9-4pm or Sun from 12-4 and talk to Greg about taking home some SF native plants for FREE!  Limit 5 per person.  Plants include Yarrow, Douglas Iris, Native Grasses, Gum Plant, Coastal Buckwheat, Pink Currant, and more!
Aguilegia Formosa
TUESDAY: Aug 14th, 6pm-8pm, Happiness Institute 1720 Market St. (btw Octavia & Gough)

SF Urban Agriculture Alliance (SFUAA) August Social Potluck

Every couple of months, we take a break from meeting agendas to do an awesome potluck and get to hang out with all the fantastic SFUAA members. That’s happening THIS TUESDAY!
Actually, we will have 1 exciting discussion item: Bill Barnes and his intern Amy from the City Administrator’s Office will be joining us to talk about the recently passed urban ag legislation, and answer our questions about next steps. Yay!


SIT/LIE Discussion

District Five Supervisor Christina Olague will hold a community discussion on the recent policy implementation of the SIT/LIE ordinance.  Come out to the Library to connect with others in the area about how SIT/LIE has affected them since it became a law.  Be heard and listen to the voices of others this Wednesday night.  Supervisor Olague will be in attendance to share her thoughts and hear yours.  Free to attend!

Local stand-up comedian, Nato Green, opines about the issue in a recent show.  His views are absolutely his own and do not represent Supervisor Olague or Kezar Gardens but give some insight into the type of debate going on around this policy.  Check out the video below and get a giggle by the way he reasons through the sit/lie policy in his head and graciously shares it with us all.



Get your hands dirty in our community garden and native plant nursery.  Join a group of local gardeners who collaborate to beautify the space, work in communal gardens, as well as share harvests and tips on a healthy gardening.  The workday is a potluck, where everyone brings a little something to share.  It also includes an informal meeting to discuss issues current and imminent to the garden group.  There is no cost to attend and everyone is welcome!

Richmond Review covers HANC/Kezar Gardens Eviction

Local media has drummed up a firestorm of articles, blogs and videos on the fact we might get evicted here at Kezar Gardens.  Some impetus for the media is that very few of the “big guys” have gotten the story right.  In this complicated web of recycling, gardens, community, Rec and Park, the Mayor’s office and the homeless elephant in the park, it’s easy to leave things out when you are reporting back.  Today, we bring you the Richmond Review, Thomas K. Pendergast takes on one angle of the fight and tries to parse some sense out of it.

The homeless.  The city and its representatives insist they are not discriminating against homeless people yet much of their presentations at governmental meetings have not recoiled from shedding bright light on the “large congregation” of homeless people supposedly found at Kezar Gardens Ecology Center .  While Pendergast hesitates from voicing his own opinion in the article, his  focus on the homeless debate/debacle that runs alongside the battle against eviction is quite telling.

And please remember, recycling is required within a certain distance of a grocery store in the state of California.  So, if it’s true, that shutting down recycling at Kezar is an attempt to quell a “secondary congregation” of homeless people, it is also true that the city would have need to shut down all the buyback recycling in SF to address that problem.

Is that the plan, dear City?

It is also worth noting Sunday’s front page SF Chronicle report on the Sit/Lie law citing the Haight Ashbury neighborhood as having the most violations, many of them elderly and homeless, are repeat offenders.  But, no one, certainly not our city government, is targeting homeless people, are they, just the regular folk who sit and lie on city streets.

If the city can justify its actions against the homeless, so what?  It only proves we have a flawed system.  They have done little or nothing to diminish the widespread perception that they are engaged in a systematic and long term war to erase homeless people from view.

And, as we all know, perception is reality.

This article first appeared in the August issue of the Richmond Review newspaper.

Appeals Court says recycling center in Golden Gate Park must go

by Thomas K. Pendergast

A California state appeals court has upheld a lower court’s ruling in favor of the city’s Recreation and Park Department (RPD) and its efforts to evict the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) recycling center from Golden Gate Park.

Attorneys for HANC argued before the lower court that the eviction was illegal because it was done as retribution for HANC’s opposition to former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s “sit/lie ordinance” and other issues involving homeless people in the park and surrounding area.

The appeals court disagreed.

“The (lower) court explained that ‘there is no evidence beyond mere speculation that the City terminated (the Council’s) tenancy in retaliation for any protected conduct on the part of (the Council). To the contrary, the City put forth uncontradicted evidence that it filed this action for the legitimate purpose of implementing city policy on the premises and evicting a tenant who was illegally occupying the premises despite no longer holding a lease to that property,'” stated the appeals court in its opinion.

“The City presented evidence that it terminated the Council’s tenancy to convert the site to a community garden, and that planning for the garden began long before the Council engaged in the protected speech that it claims motivated the eviction. The City was exploring alternative uses for the site by January of 2010, after years of community discontent with the recycling center and related health and safety concerns. … The criticism of Newsom appeared in a newspaper article dated July 9, 2010. … The City’s plan to replace the recycling center with a community garden was thus underway before the Council criticized then-Mayor Newsom and his policies, and therefore could not have been based on his desire to retaliate for its criticism.”

Ed Dunn, who runs the recycling center, disagrees with the opinion of both courts and says HANC will now appeal that decision to the California Supreme Court. He says a “cabal” of people within city government have long been irritated by HANC’s support of the homeless and other issues opposed by the mayor’s office, well before the so-called sit/lie ordinance, which forbids sitting or laying on public sidewalks.

Dunn says what this is really about is an attempt to get rid of homeless people illegally camping in Golden Gate Park.

“They’re thinking in terms of getting rid of HANC (recycling) and getting rid of the homeless. This is about economic cleansing. This is about a scorched-earth campaign to deprive the lowest one percent of an opportunity of getting two nickels to scratch together. That’s what it’s about,” said Dunn. “That’s really nasty class warfare.”

Dennis Kern, the director of operations for the RPD, referred directly to the issue of homeless people in the park when making the case for evicting the recycling center at a commission meeting on Dec. 2, 2010.

“In our view, recycling provides an economic means to continue camping throughout the year in the park,” Kern told the SF Recreation and Park Commission, right before it unanimously voted to proceed with the eviction. “In the last 12 months there were a number of criminal events in which either the perpetrator or the victim was an illegal camper. So, it’s our position that without this economic means to sustain illegal camping in the park, then this illegal activity will significantly decrease, thereby increasing the public safety factor.”

Dunn scoffs at the idea that getting rid of the recycling center will affect the number of homeless people in the park or stop them from rummaging through blue curbside recycling bins in the surrounding neighborhood. He noted that there are other recycling centers on the west side of the City and in San Mateo County.

“Getting rid of one, thinking you’re going to impact the situation, is ridiculous,” said Dunn. “Beyond that, there are folks that buy recyclables and then resell them at a markup on the street. They run illicit buy-back operations. There are plenty of places for people to take their stuff.”

In a brief filed with the court on Jan. 23, 2012, City Attorney Dennis Herrera denied the eviction was “driven by animus towards homeless people,” although he admits the issue of homeless people in the park was a factor.

“To be sure, one of the many different reasons for the transition was a concern by members of the neighborhood, and members of city government, about the adverse secondary effects of the large congregation of homeless people at and near the recycling center,” Herrera states in the brief. “It is entirely appropriate for the government to address the secondary effects of a congregation of people, and this does not constitute evidence that the government is acting out of animus towards those people or punishing them because of their status … indeed, all of HANC’s recycling customers, not just its homeless customers, are affected equally by the decision to terminate the lease. The secondary effects of a large congregation of homeless people drawn by the recycling center was but one of many reasons that drove Rec.-Park’s decision to transition the property.”

The RPD plans to replace the recycling center with a community garden and a garden resource center, a move Dunn describes as “cynical” because the HANC recycling center has long supported community garden institutions around the city and contributed resources to them, including the Hayes Valley Farm, Garden for the Environment and the Civic Center Victory Garden.

“We were already a garden resource center in many ways. We did do what we told them we could do for them and we transformed the bulk of the site to the community garden,” says Dunn.

In 1998, the Golden Gate Master Plan was established and in it the recycling center was designated as being a “non-conforming use” because it is considered an industrial use, and therefore it would eventually be phased out. Dunn is skeptical that this is the real reason for the eviction.

“We’ve been on Park and Rec. land since 1977, so for that to be pulled up right now as a reason to get rid of us is absurd,” says Dunn. “We’re being called an industrial site. That is just the worst kind of lie. This is not an industrial site. What we’re doing here is what’s done at 1,200 supermarkets all across the state.

“To get rid of a few homeless people they’re willing to get rid of something that is useful. That’s pretty crazy. When you go through all the policies on the urban agriculture side and on the recycling side, there’s no good answer for getting rid of us.”

As of July 20, 2012, the SF Sheriff’s Department has not received a court order to enforce the eviction, according to the department’s public information officer, Susan Fahey.

Inquiries to the mayor’s office as to when it plans to approach the court for permission to enforce the eviction notice were not answered as of presstime.

RETRO WEEK: Peter Jennings with Peter Raven circa 1988


Today we take a look back not just at the environmental movement but also its media coverage.  Peter Jennings, famed evening news anchorman, used to do a segment called “Person of the Week”.  This report featured people doing incredible things that you may not know about.  On October 14, 1988, the spotlight was turned on Peter Raven.  Raven is a well-known botanist who has won every award known to man on the subject.  After teaching at Stanford, he decided to pursue a career as the director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, dedicated to biodiversity and representing plants in context with culture.  He is a firm believer in saving endangered plants and outspoken about how we still don’t know enough about our ecosystems to live without certain species and the effect of their loss could prove devastating to us all.

Jennings was making a statement himself by discussing Raven.  He notes the incredible surge in mainstream American culture to learn more about the environment and conservation.  He also astutely addresses the reasons why people like Peter Raven are so important to our society.


Peter Raven is native to California and he got his education at UCLA before teaching at Stanford, in his early days.  He also responsible for discovering the last known Raven Manzanita plant in the Presidio of San Francisco.  The plant, over 100 years old, has never procreated and may be the last of its kind on earth.  It’s location is kept under wraps but keep your eyes and ears to the grindstone in SF and you may get some clues on how to find it.  Recently, when construction on Doyle Drive began, another rare Manzanita was discovered after much of the overgrown vegetation was removed from a road median.  The Franciscan Manzanita is also now a proud addition to the conservatory of rare plants at the Presidio.

Peter Raven and Peter Jennings were both pioneers in their respective fields.  They each dedicated their lives to the pressing issues of the world and never once looked back.  Capture some of that retro cool energy and continue the charge yourself by learning, conserving and connecting people of the world in the ongoing movement for a healthy and sustainable planet earth.  Who knows what you might discover!

RETRO WEEK: Alvord Lake and Food not Bombs


In acts of defiance, members of FOOD not BOMBS led marches and held food giveaways around the city including Alvord Lake, starting in the late 1980’s.  The message was to provide the poor and homeless people with resources instead of marching orders.  People from the movement were regularly arrested and cited for these giveaways since, while it required a permit to sell food in Golden Gate Park, it was always illegal to give it away for free.

The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) was a backer of this movement.  They often provided logistical support to the food giveaways though many opponents chided their involvement.  Many in the HANC community also claim that local neighborhood group CVIA (Cole Valley Improvement Association) was actually formed in order to combat the progressive position HANC took on the FOOD not BOMBS movement.  CVIA still works tirelessly to oppose HANC initiatives at every turn.  The main difference is that HANC promotes an inclusive society which finds a way to help everyone in the community while CVIA would rather create an exclusive community, finding ways to eliminate people who are visibly needy or unsavory from the neighborhood.  This critical difference in philosophy has not lost steam in our time, rather it has been magnified and polarized this area, turning neighbor against neighbor in the war on poverty.

Greg Gaar, our native plant guru and former Haight Street fixture, used to spend his days photographing the people, culture and politics in the Haight in black and white film.  His unofficial archive captures many pivotal moments from the neighborhood and brings a close-up perspective to a movement for the poor and hungry most people have never seen.  A selection of his photos from a FOOD not BOMBS protest on September 5, 1988 is included below.   Above, find the adorable animation from the FOOD not BOMBS website illustrating their ideas.  For more information check out

Stay tuned for more retro themed stories this week on our blog.  We will be looking at the Mc Donald’s drive-thru debacle, the Cala/Whole Foods development, and the groundbreaking environmental work of John Barry and May Pon.  If you have a unique story about this neighborhood, please email, maybe we will feature you on our blog!

US or Them?


Community members gathered at the monthly HANC member meeting to discuss the future of Urban Agriculture in San Francisco and the impending eviction of Kezar Gardens Ecology Center.  Representatives from OCCUPY Gill Tract, Hayes Valley Farm and the Free Farm Stand presented information on their struggles and heard ours.   People spoke frankly about the NIMBY politics of shutting down our recycling center.   The overwhelming and unchecked power the Recreation and Parks Department is seeming to have an negative impact on many people in our city and it’s time to get the word out.

Celsius & Beyond: Science Crazy Kids learn at Kezar Gardens


The science based educational organization for kids K-9, Celsius & Beyond, came by for an educational tour at Kezar Gardens Ecology Center recently.  They probed site manager, Charlie Lamar, about plastic, glass and indigenous things.  A spirited group of head scratchers and toe tappers, they demonstrated knowledge and curiosity, as any great scientist is wont to do.  At C&B, they have a pretty serious program, employing teachers from the best schools in the area including UC Berkeley, UCSF, San Francisco State and Stanford.  They set their standards high and we thank them for including us in their quest for excellence in science education opportunities.  I learned a lot from the tour with this group.  Check out today’s video and you might also learn a thing or two!

If your school or summer camp group is interested in an education tour of Kezar Gardens, please email to arrange a time!  For more information about the center, stop by our general meeting this Thursday, July 12th, at the Park Branch Library at 7pm.  There will be a presentation on the tenuous future of urban gardening in San Francisco.  We also have a family fun picnic this Sunday July 15th from12-3pm to honor gardeners at our site.  Stop by and share the love at Kezar Gardens Ecology Center-the most unique environmental site in the city of SF!

For more information on Celsius & Beyond click the link below.