Posts tagged ‘Haight Ashbury’

Rally to Keep Recycling in SF!


Sponsored by: Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council


ATTENTION: Small Business Owners, Community Gardeners, Urban Agriculture Activists, Chinese Community Representatives, HANC Recycling and Kezar Gardens Center Advocates and others with a vested stake in Zero Waste, Small Business, Urban Agriculture, and Environmental Legacy in San Francisco.

Bring your support to the steps of City Hall this Tuesday and demand that Mayor Lee take responsibility for the negative impacts set to occur once Haight Ashbury Recycling center is evicted.   We need people, signs, and voices to be heard to achieve the following goals.

  • Retain HANC recycling and Kezar Gardens Center within the Convenience Zone it serves
  • Issue a Hold on Eviction until a Task Force can determine best course of action for all parties
  • Prevent Small Business from Footing the Bill for NIMBY politics
  • Preserve the sustainable economic model: recycling = green jobs + native plants + community gardens in one space
  • Preserve 51 community garden beds and their 100 gardeners
  • Create a task force to find a suitable location to house this important ecology center
  • Reinstate the citizen advisory board to advise Recreation and Park on plans to build a new garden with taxpayer money.

We gather to call attention to a mounting crisis for San Francisco small businesses, consumers and gardens alike. The system for taking back bottles and cans for California Redemption Value (CRV) is broken and may be on the verge of collapse.

The California State Bottle bill requires small markets in the City to accept recycling (bottles and cans) in store if there is no supermarket or recycling center nearby. Stores of any size may opt out of this requirement by paying a $100 a day in lieu fee. While this may not be much for a large grocery store, smaller establishments will be hard pressed to pay it.

Impacts on Small Grocers [or Markets] and Beverage Stores

  • All small stores that sell beverage containers with a CRV deposit must also take those containers back
  • If there is a recycling center nearby or a larger grocery store with recycling services, the store becomes exempt.
  • When HANC recycling and Kezar Gardens closes, there will be no recycling in the area
  • Big Business (Whole Foods) will afford the fee and small business will have to pay up or accept recycling in their stores.
  • The fee is $100/day and up to $36K per year.

Need for Recycling Centers

  • The Small Business Commission is holding hearings to discuss the shortage of recycling in the city now
  • Suspending recycling services in the area will have a negative impact on recycling rates-50% of recycling in SF goes through a recycling center
  • Without a local recycling center, all small businesses will pay high fees or have to accept recycling in store

The existing recycling centers in SF are well utilized but dwindling in numbers. Numbering 30 in 1990, now there are only 21. Statewide, there is one recycling center for every 18,000 residents while there is only one for every 38,000 San Franciscans. Recycling centers in the City receive half of all CRV bottles and cans recycled.

Of the 21 recycling centers in the City, only about 12 are conveniently located at neighborhood supermarkets or nearby. The rest are hard to get to or only consist of reverse vending machines that slowly receive bottles and cans one at a time. As a result long lines are the norm at most City recycling centers.

The City’s eviction of HANC sets a terrible example for supermarkets. HANC has served the Inner Richmond, Inner Sunset and Haight-Ashbury Bottle Bill requirements since the law went into effect in 1987. Other recycling centers are rumored for shut down in the near future, following the lead of the City. The HANC eviction will have a domino effect leaving thousands of San Franciscans and hundreds of stores without a place to recycle.

The Mayor needs to address this crisis now by placing the HANC eviction on hold while a task force is appointed to develop and implement solutions.

HANC recycling has also been a longtime advocate for urban agriculture and habitat restoration.  The money that is generated from recycling pays for green jobs with health insurance as well as a decade old San Francisco Native Plant Nursery.  When HANC learned of the plan to create a community garden in the space, it immediately met the need creating Kezar Gardens, a 51-plot community garden program.  There are currently 100 gardeners who will lose their plots in the event of an eviction.  The Recreation and Park Department has no plan to retain or relocate those gardens or those gardeners.  We demand that the citizen advisory council that was created to advise Recreation and Park on the use of the space be reinstated.  This group should be tasked with the fate of the current gardeners, if they cannot be relocated elsewhere.

There is no other model in the city of San Francisco that demonstrates how recycling contributes to jobs that restore the earth and community programs that educate, celebrate and nurture organic food growth, community health, and an integrated approach to taking environmental action in one half acre of land.


CVIA wants to roll back the Summer of Love

John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas wrote this most famous song about San Francisco and it was heard for the first time at the Monterey Pop Festival back in 1967.  Scott McKenzie sang it.
“If you’re going to San Francisco,
be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…
If you’re going to San Francisco,
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there.”

Bob Weir, of the Grateful Dead, describes the time of the Summer of Love like this:

“Haight Ashbury was a ghetto of bohemians who wanted to do anything—and we did but I don’t think it has happened since. Yes there was LSD. But Haight Ashbury was not about drugs. It was about exploration, finding new ways of expression, being aware of one’s existence.”


These were the reasons people, in droves and droves, flocked to our city way back then and, now, to this very day.  It makes sense why people who participate in counterculture would want to find their way to the place it all began-way back when.

What doesn’t make sense is why the people of the Cole Valley Improvement Association came here.  In studying their website and their version of the hippie movement, the summer of love and the idea of finding “new ways of expression”, don’t mean much to them.  In fact, they find that whole idea detrimental to their desires: raising home values, cleaning the streets of people who appear poor, and eliminating services that serve those who are underprivileged.

You don’t have to take my word for it, either.  Pasted below is an excerpt from their website denoting their values for all to see.  Often, to articulate what those values are, they abase those who are in their way and not like-minded.  My analysis of their raison d’etre concludes that antagonism of others has been a way to unite people in their group.  Would you join a group that was formed solely to antagonize people they disagreed with?  Is that in the spirit of San Francisco?

I know that’s not why I came here-I just wonder about them.

It’s significant to note that the average cost of renting a single family home in SF is now about $3500/month.  Buying one is usually a million dollar proposition.  I’m not seeing the empirical evidence that the public services and the poor people and the drugs are any competition for that.

In my opinion, the CVIA is lucky to live in a place where people like them continue to be included by people like us.  If we were forced to play by their rules, it hardly seems the same courtesy would be returned.  But, now, as always, we welcome the CVIA to our family, and we remain willing to work with them to improve and resolve the issues of this neighborhood.  Our door is open.  Will they walk through it?

So far-no dice.  They would rather exclude people than find a way to share a neighborhood with them.

I get it.  Inclusion is hard and it takes practice.  Exclusion has always been an easy tool, often practiced, and accessible to all carnations of humanity.  I think that’s why the Summer of Love happened in the first place.

Which will you choose?

The article below appears on the Cole Valley Improvement Association website.
 A Brief History of Cole Valley Improvement Association
The Cole Valley improvement Association evolved from a neighborhood SAFE block group that started on Cole Street in 1987. The SAFE group members quickly found that they had common interests beyond Cole Street as the neighborhood was experiencing increasing frequency of drug sales and camping in the Panhandle and the Stanyan Street entrance to the park (Alvord Lake). The droves of young people wanting to relive the Summer of Love brought, and continue to bring, special problems such as sidewalk obstruction, sleeping in doorways and more drug trade. At the same time, as an increasing number of old flats were being converted into social services-following the path set by the nine venues of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics-there were fewer families with vested interests in the neighborhood.
CVIA took a very public and forceful position in January of 1988 when Mayor Art Agnos, in violation of a city ordinance, permitted individuals to sleep in vehicles parked on the streets bordering the Panhandle and Kezar Stadium. The mayor’s decision resulted in an influx of car campers. With no public toilets, driveways became the solution. As we met with members of the Board of Supervisors, pushed for television coverage of the issue and organized a letter writing and telephone campaign–we succeeded in convincing the mayor that this was a bad idea and he retreated. As a result, scores of Haight families joined CVIA, expanding our membership far beyond Cole Valley.

Although we are a resident group and are active members of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods (we supplied a president for two years, 1995-97), we never forget how important a healthy commercial district is. In the seventies, Haight Street was a dead zone of boarded-up buildings. Banks red-lined the neighborhood and it was difficult for home buyers to secure a loan. It was a long road back and we no longer frown on businesses that are not “neighborhood serving,” realizing that times have changed. So, although we do not want an influx of chain stores, we do want to support our merchants in keeping shoppers coming to the greater Haight. Having said that, one of our greatest dangers is that we will become an entertainment venue and those kinds of expansions in operating permits-both in restaurants and bars-we watch very closely.

RETRO WEEK: Richmond Environmental Action


May Pon and her friends got together to take action after the first Earth Day in 1970.  They wanted to do something for the planet and for their own community.   The REA or Richmond Environmental Action was a group of concerned citizens who formed 14 different recycling centers in garages across the district in the seventies.  They eventually were beneficiaries of the University of San Francisco and, with free land from USF, centered their efforts at Turk and Parker Streets near the lone mountain campus and along Anza Street on the north slope of Lone Mountain.

Through the adventure, she also met her husband, John Barry, who also became instrumental in the San Francisco environmental movement.  They worked in cooperation with the University and established the first recycling center in the city of SF.  In operation from 1970-1996, the REA created community and momentum for an ever growing group of environmentalists in the bay area.  Harvey Milk, among others, could be regularly found drumming up votes and pitching in at Turk and Parker in his day.

Today, you will find the USF Koret Health Center parking garage and USF teacher housing at the REA’s former USF sites.

Even the Haight Ashbury recycling center was initially funded and inspired by the REA.  They supplied cash, tools and advice to Ed Dunn Sr.  who founded that initiative in 1974 at Grattan School Yard.  May and John both recall how the Recreation and Parks Department would claim credit for having a recycling program in their park because they leased land to the center started by Ed Dunn Sr.  It made them proud and it helped keep the area clean, why wouldn’t they adore it?

Things have changed a lot since then.  The good work of REA was so profound, we now have mandatory recycling laws in our city, curbside pick-up and we fight over whether a recycling center should even be in a park or anywhere else.  Of course, if you ask May and John what the highest and best use of our parkland would be, they can think of nothing better than the way it is being used now.  Enjoy an excerpt of our interview with them and learn a bit more about the people behind the practice of recycling in San Francisco.

What to do about Alvord Lake

There has been a lot of talk on what to do about Alvord Lake and the area that encompasses the entrance onto Golden Gate Park at the top of Haight Street.  Recently, at a workshop to re-imagine the area, suggestions were made including:

a roped off native plant garden

a visitor center with staff

bicycle rentals

food trucks

picnic tables and regularly scheduled events

a petanque field

pedestals for art

rehabbing the stairs

What are your thoughts about Alvord Lake?  There is no mention in the notes of this meeting about the groups of transient kids and adults who hang out there but getting rid of them seems to be a real goal of this redevelopment plan if you scratch the surface.  Will redevelopment motivate the current park occupants to move?  Maybe a simple “keep off the grass” sign would do the trick and save a lot of money, if that’s the goal?  After all, a park isn’t really for people to just hang out in, or is it?  It’s certainly not a sanctuary that should welcome everyone, or should it?

My suggestion is that we embrace the regulars and re-develop with the spirit of counterculture that made this neighborhood famous.  Remember FOOD not BOMBS?  They got arrested for giving away food at Alvord Lake way back when but hey!  Why NOT turn it into a community garden?  I’m sure the Hayes Valley Farm folks could do wonders with the space and even get those “unsavory” types doing synchronized yoga with the tourists.  Then, we could have a free farm stand next to the food truck and see which is healthier.

Forgive my sarcasm, but roundabout gentrification really bothers me.  Initiators of this project also want to close the recycling center to achieve the same goal-getting rid of homeless people.  So, in the spirit of Dave Letterman, and after querying the people around me, I have made a top ten list of things that could also be done at Alvord Lake to clean it up and get rid of all those bad homeless kids and their little dogs too.  Before you get all mad, remember, it’s just a joke.  I’m actually ok with the so-called unsavory folk.  Maybe, the real questions we should ask is this?  What would Jesus do?

1.  BBQ Pits for bad Transient Doggies

2. Soundproofed Soapboxes (so you can scream all you want but no one will hear you)

3.  Astro-turf, Soccer and Night Lighting

4.  A “keep off the grass” Security Ranger

5. Get a thousand screaming newborns to do a flash mob everyday

6. Build a holding tank under the lake for the unsavory types

7. Cover the place with thorny Himalayan Blackberry so no one can use it.

8. Burn it all

9. Duh, sprinklers, on, everywhere, all the time

10. Establish a gated, make that double gated, Alvord Lake Leisure Community with high HOA fees

New Pews from Old Red Vic Movie House


Last summer the iconic, beloved and sometimes notorious Red Vic Movie House closed its doors and rolled up the red carpet at 1727 Haight Street.   But do not entirely despair,  building owners Jack and Betsey Rix are working furiously to take this space to the next level.  The plan is to remove the single screen movie theater and install a smaller 49 seat digital screening room that can also be used for community events.  The remaining space will be parceled out to small food related start up companies, sort of a food bazaar, with a Vegan Bakery, Cajun Cuisine and food from the country of Georgia.  Part of the lobby will also be given to Alembic, the restaurant next door, to expand their seating area. So, while the single screen will not be jettisoned into the future, the idea of the motion picture will and coupled with interesting new food, should draw a more diverse crowd and help with the bottom line.  In order to start work, they await the planning commission’s approval but have already started getting rid of some cool stuff.


Anyone who has ever been to the Red Vic has had an experience with the wooden pews that served as most of the seating in the theater.  With little room in the new screening area, they mostly have to go.  That’s where we came in!  Instead of retiring the famous hot seats to the dump, we took a few of those pews off the hands of the Red Vic and are arranging them at Kezar Gardens!  Come by this Sunday from 12-4 to help decide where they should go!  

Avoid JUNE Gloom with Events, Hearings and Fairs!

JUNE 3rd, 2012 12-4pm

780 Frederick Street


BBQ Potluck, Garden Development Meeting and workday!

Kick off June by finding your bliss at the garden and sharing it with your fellow man via food, drink and mulch mulch more.  Bring something to plant, eat and share, come with ideas about how to improve the garden site, and your weekend calendar so we can schedule community work days for the rest of the summer season!

JUNE 6th, 2012 9am

350 McAllister Street, ROOM TBA


Fight the depression head on by supporting Kezar Gardens in court.  The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council goes downtown to have their appeals heard on the eviction of the Ecology Center.  Oral arguments take place Wednesday morning in the 1st District Court of Appeals in front of a three judge panel.  Go HANC.

JUNE 10, 2012 11-6pm

Upper Haight Street


Get your groove on all the way down Haight Street and stop by the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council Booth while you are at it.  Kezar Gardens will have a larger than life native plant photo booth and take your picture for free.  Bands, merchants, and restaurateurs all take part in this annual street fair.

Tracing the Green Hairstreak Butterfly


Head up the hill near 14th Avenue in the Sunset and you will wind your way into Golden Gate Heights and its surrounding and steep bluffs.  An adorable neighborhood with pockets of native plants still present, some folks have taken it upon themselves to return more unused land  back to its natural habitat.  Before the Sunset and Richmond area of San Francisco were developed, they were miles of dunes and bluffs home to Coast Buckwheat, Seaside Daisies and other geographically specific plants, animals and insects.


One of the inhabitants of this unique ecosystem is the Green Hairstreak Butterfly.  A shimmering sage colored floater with white antennae and a flair for the camera, the Green Hairstreak Butterfly can only survive if she has her larval plant, the Coast Buckwheat to lay eggs on.  The delicate joining of plant and insect is precious, original and historical.  Through the work of Nature In the City, a local nonprofit, the corridor of native plants restored to the Golden Gates Heights area has proven its impact already.  Many of the initial plants for the project were donated by the native plant nursery at Kezar.  On our visit last Friday, we encountered three different green hairstreaks at the corner of 14th Avenue and Pacheco Street.


The extraordinary thing about ecological systems is how well they work.  There is a certain simplicity in the earth’s natural systems, pairing plants with water and wind cycles and watching how they support a specific set of living creatures.  There is also a satisfying sense of power, as a human, to restore an ecological system back to its more primal form.  The result seems to be a good partnership between people and the planet, full of impact and inclusive of nature.


It was an absolute treat to explore and interact with the ever blossoming habitat restoration program for the Green Hairstreak Butterfly near Golden Gate Heights.  We commend Mike Belcher for his dutiful stewardship of this program’s plots and for spending the morning showing us around the hill.  Today’s video gives you a look into this project and captures our own sighting of the Green Hairstreak Butterfly that day.  Totally proud of his work, Mike was also missing the others who help bring this project to life and was sure to send along the following to highlight some of the major people involved in this unique and successful restoration project along with mention of another significant sighting at the 14th and Pacheco site the very next day.

From Mike: “Hello Soumyaa, It sure was a special day, and it continued the next day when I returned to 14th and Pacheco and observed a female actually laying eggs on one of the coast buckwheats!  This is the ultimate goal of the restoration project, to increase the habitat and population of the Green Hairstreak.  As far as people to mention: First, Liam O’Brien the butterfly expert whose vision started the project.  Nature in the City, the non-profit organization run by Peter Brastow with Melanie Trelles and Deidre Martin, who took this vision and made it a reality with the help of dedicated volunteers like Sarah McConico (Steward of the site at 14th and Pacheco), Barbara Kobayashi, Matt Zlatnich and others.  Also a big shout out to Ed Dunn and Greg Gaar from HANC for providing many of the native plants for the restoration projects.  Thanks again and best of luck to you and HANC. ”