Posts tagged ‘Mayor Ed Lee’

SF Mayor Held Hostage by Latte Liberals

NIMBY politics force Green Workers into unemployment, leaving Ma and Pa shops to take back their own trash

Loewenberg

Anything that’s good for the environment is bad for Ted Loewenberg and his local neighborhood association.  In addition to levying an appeal against new bike lanes in SF and working to remove benches in Golden Gate Park, Loewenberg now aims to stop people from recycling and gardening in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood.  With the Recreation and Park Department and a handful of Latte Liberals on his side, the group is intent on dismantling California redemption at the expense of Bay Area small businesses and firing vulnerable green workers right before Christmas.

Loewenberg claims only homeless people use what is known as the oldest recycling center in the city of San Francisco.  He believes removing the recycling center will eradicate homelessness in the area.

The center paints a different picture, entirely.  They say only a small part of their customer base identifies themselves as homeless.  Most of the customers are Chinese and a good portion arrive at the center in cars.  Moreover, the center hosts a San Francisco specific native plant nursery started ten years ago and a 51 plot community garden.  Supporters of the center call it an ecological space and have sent 1000’s of postcards, letters and emails to stop the eviction from taking place.

Moreover, San Francisco is notoriously under-served by recycling centers.  This center serves two large grocery stores in the area including a Whole Foods as well as dozens of small businesses nearby.  If the center is shut down, the grocery markets are required by law to provide in store recycling, this includes every little Ma and Pa shop in the area.  Though the battle for eviction has gone on for years, there have been no provisions made for recycling once this center is shut down.

On December 10th there will be an emergency hearing to discuss the fates of hundreds of small businesses in SF who will be forced to pay fines if they don’t comply with state recycling mandates.

Once again a handful of Latte Liberals with NIMBY agendas hold effective policies and state law hostage for personal gain.  A clear majority of San Franciscans see the recycling center as an asset to the community and to “zero waste” as pointed out in the attached video.

SF Mayor Ed Lee now must decide whether to stand up for small businesses and the law or cave in to the Latte Liberals.

SF evicts one garden to put in another making vulnerable Green Workers unemployed at X-mas

SEEING RED IN THE GREEN CITY

Despite talks with the Mayor and assurances that a true discussion would take place to relocate the ecology center at 780 Frederick Street in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, an eviction notice was served to a manager at the site today, November 29, 2012.  The eviction of this ecology center is obscene and will cause 10 vulnerable GREEN workers to be unemployed at X-mas in one of the worst economies we have seen in our country.  The city that supposedly knows how is demonstrating exactly what they ‘know how’ to do.  Despite the state mandate to provide recycling, despite the need for more recycling centers in SF, despite the laws passed to support Urban Agriculture in the city, despite the 1000’s of letters and postcards sent to the city in support of this vital public service; they have still served an eviction notice while giving the impression to the public, the media and the ecology center that they were working on a relocation plan.

Kezar Gardens is a nonprofit, state mandated, recycling center, native plant nursery, and 51 plot community garden used by hundreds of San Francisco residents, small business owners, and especially the Asian community.  It started as a community effort in the 70’s when there was no place to recycle in San Fran.  Today, despite their obvious benefit and contribution to the community, they are being evicted at the behest of a few loud and privileged people.  The city is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to halt this green work that clearly contributes to the zero waste mandate.  This is an obscene act that clearly and openly defies the laws of the land that say a vital public service that cannot be located elsewhere can be housed in a park, that recycling must be provided within a certain distance of grocery stores and businesses selling beverage containers, and that everyone rich and poor has the right to participate in the system in a legal and safe way.

The nation needs to know that San Francisco is not living up to its reputation.  Moreover, when the time comes, embattled Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, recently victorious against an effort by the Mayor to oust him from his post, will be tasked with carrying out the orders.  Will Ross do the right thing?  Will anyone?

Along with the people and services that are set to be evicted from 780 Frederick, there are also the ravens, butterflies, beetles and bees that will also be disrupted.

 

“This Land Is Too Valuable To Let Poor People Park On It”

Justin Herman, Executive Director of the SF Redevelopment Agency, said this in 1977 to give credibility to the “urban renewal” project in SF that sought to buy up buildings and evict people who were poor, old, black and brown.  In the Fillmore, it was known as the “negro removal” plan and in downtown San Francisco, the International Hotel, of Manila Town, became the center of the movement against ideologies like those of Justin Herman.  The longest eviction battle to date, on the books, for the city, was one result of this movement. The commitment to low-income housing and the fire for social justice in the Asian community was another.  The story of the I-hotel is one of great significance as we enter a more modern era of gentrification in the city.

Even our honorable Mayor Edwin Lee was involved with the fight to save the I-Hotel-anyone who was any kind of an activist was.  It was an obscene and rash approach to try to evict dozens of elderly asian men and women who had called that place their home for so many decades.  Students from SFSU and UC Berkeley protested regularly on behalf of the tenants.  Jim Jones of the People’s Temple brought over 300 of his followers to help build a human blockade against the police on one occasion.  Human fences 7 to 8 people deep were formed every time the Sheriff’s office posted a notice for eviction.

The I-hotel was originally built in 1907 after the great earthquake.  It was part of a neighborhood near Chinatown housing mostly Filipino but also other Asian merchant mariner workers.  For many decades, Asians were prohibited from many normal activities due to their racial difference.  They were not allowed to intermarry with white people or even work at certain jobs.  Asian women were prevented from immigrating before 1965 to discourage breeding in the population. It was quite fine for the Asians to have a place to live together where they weren’t in the way of others.  But, when development took off, as it is always wont to do, the once deemed ghettos of Chinatown, Manila Town and The Fillmore, became hot real estate commodities.  Buildings were sold off and mass evictions were approved in order to tear down existing structures and put high rises and high income property in their place.

From 1968 to 1977, tenants, activists, regular people, politicians, cult leaders, students, teachers and many many others battled Milton Meyer and Company led by business mogul Walter Shorenstein who bought the building in ’68 and immediately began evictions in order to demolish the site and erect a parking structure in its place.  On several occasions eviction notices were posted and the immediate response was massive protest by the activist community.  This type of stand-off garnered a few stays of eviction and solidified a strong commitment to social justice among the Asian American community that still thrives today.  Shorenstein eventually sold the building in a clandestine fashion and the new owner, Four Seas Investment Company, carried on the fight to evict the I-hotel.  Sheriff Richard Hongisto was charged with carrying out the order each time an eviction was imminent.  On one occasion, he refused to and was sent to jail for 5 days.  His noble efforts were usurped by his eventual submission to evict the tenants and the horrendous way in which he eventually did it.  The eviction, caught on film by Curtis Choy, sent a brutal message to the nation about San Francisco and how it treats its most vulnerable citizens.  Choy eventually made a feature film about the struggle: The Fall of the I-Hotel (1983).

http://youtu.be/lzrWwvI8JpI

The link leads to the trailer for Curtis Choy’s film on the I-Hotel.  He describes the film as an act of witnessing.  Witness for yourself what the look and feel of the people and times were in Manila Town around the I-Hotel.

As the fight continues today to remove peoples of color and those who are economically disadvantaged from our fair city, remember the struggle of the I-Hotel.  Remember the thousands of folks who were activated into the political sphere to help those who could not help themselves.  Remember that no matter what your politics-moderate or progressive or other-it is never a sound idea to make violent and rash actions against those who are only trying to pursue a decent life, a decent amount of liberty and some happiness to go along with it.  And the next time you think the “ghetto” is a bad place to live, remember that some of the strongest community families  and bonds come from places like that.  You would never find thousands of people from across the land linking arms and fighting cops to protect a high-rise or a parking structure.  You would also never find the kind of culture, heritage and community in places like those, as you would in a place like the I-Hotel.  Let’s continue to make room for everyone making a contribution to this city big or small.

And next time you traverse Justin Herman Plaza, remember the kind guy he really was.

Mayor Lee wants to beef up recycling throughout the city

 

 

 

 

 

Eviction of Golden Gate Park recycling center hits snag; collides with state law

by Thomas K. Pendergast, originally published in the Richmond Review November 2012

After San Francisco ran slap-bang up against a California state law, Mayor Ed Lee and SF Supervisor Christina Olague have been talking about finding a new home for the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council’s (HANC) recycling center in Golden Gate Park.

Meanwhile, the SF Recreation and Park Department (RPD) says it is still planning for HANC’s eviction, and plan to replace it with a community garden.

As the recycling center’s landlord, RPD sent an eviction notice to HANC in June 2011, but then HANC took RPD to court.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals eventually ruled in favor of the RPD’s eviction and the state Supreme Court declined to hear the case in September, effectively upholding the eviction. As of presstime, the SF Sheriff’s office has not received an order to evict, so the recycling center’s immediate future appears to be in limbo.

HANC’s Executive Director Ed Dunn says he discussed alternatives with the mayor’s office and city departments, the RPD and the district’s supervisor, Christina Olague, at a recent meeting at City Hall.

It seems it is not just a simple matter to get rid of the recycling center and leave it at that. The problem is a state law known as the California Bottle Act.

The law requires stores with annual sales of $2 million or more to either buy back the recycled bottles and cans brought to them or pay a $100 fine for each day they fail to do so. The law also establishes a “convenience zone” of a half-mile radius around such stores. Within this zone, all other stores selling cans or bottles must do the same.

They are all exempted from the law if there is a recycling center in the area, like HANC. Once that recycling center is gone, the law will probably go into effect because not far to the east of them is a Whole Foods market and nearby to the west sits Andronico’s market.

Also at the meeting was the executive director of the San Francisco Office of Small Business, Regina Dick-Endrizzi.

“They’re required to provide certified recycling but they could get an exemption if there’s an entity, a certified recycling center, that is in that convenience zone area. Or, they can pay a $100 a day fine,” says Dick-Endrizzi.

Rather than go through the trouble of dealing with homeless people or senior citizens showing up with bags full of bottles and cans every day, taking the latter option might be a better option for large markets.

“There are places that have made the decision that they will pay $100 a day, as opposed to provide the recycling on site,” she explains. “If the supermarket is not providing recycling on site and there isn’t an off-site recycling center, then all stores that sell bottles and cans are required to do buy back.”

She says this has already been a problem with a market and surrounding convenience stores in an area south of Market Street.

“Once the convenience zone was established by this one entity and they did not provide a recycling center and nor was there a recycling center in the half-mile radius, people were coming in (to small markets) with bags, and so that was interfering; their customers purchasing their stuff were having to wait in line while they were dealing with this. It creates a certain amount of business disruption.”

Especially when the “mom and pop stores” started getting letters from the state warning them about the monetary consequences of not complying.

A spokesperson for the mayor confirms he was at the meeting.

“I think the mayor participated in the meeting because he is open to hearing about if there’s a lack of resources available to people out there in the City for recycling opportunities, and to see how HANC could maybe fill that need. He was open to hearing about that,” says Christine Falvey, the mayor’s director of communications and public affairs. “So, he asked his SF Department of Environment to work with HANC to come up with a plan, locations, what the purpose is. … How could we beef up recycling throughout the City?”

Falvey says she was not at the meeting and is not aware of any discussion involving a specific alternative site. Instead, they talked about a mobile model where a recycling service could pick up at different locations, at different times.

“As far as I understand it was a discussion about the more mobile aspects of a program moving forward.”

Falvey also says that because the eviction is essentially a landlord-tenant issue between the RPD and the recycling center, she did not think the department needed the mayor’s approval to proceed with the eviction. To do that, however, either a department head or the city attorney would have to go before a judge, who in turn could order the Sheriff’s Office to post an eviction notice.

A spokesperson for District 5 Supervisor Olague’s office says the supervisor was at the meeting to discuss location options for the recycling center.

“Our office has heard from the majority of the surrounding small businesses that their businesses will suffer significantly with the loss of the very important services HANC provides,” says Stephanie Tucker. “We have also heard from neighbors on both sides of the issue, however, the majority support them relocating and staying in the district. Keeping HANC in District 5 is the sentiment our office has heard throughout our community and is a priority.”

“Another idea that has been brought up and has been very well received, is turning HANC into a mobile recycling center/service, with a set schedule of times and locations. Our goal is to identify solutions that will allow HANC to stay open, relocate and continue to serve our community, as they have done very well since 1974. If anyone knows of any spaces available for HANC, please call HANC or our office.”

The RPD, meanwhile, plans to move a community garden into the space and has already allotted $250,000 for the first phase of the conversion.

“We are continuing our planning efforts for a community garden that will open to the public at the east end of Golden Gate Park,” says Connie Chan, deputy director of public affairs for the RPD.

Chan chose not to comment on whether or not the department would push to evict the recycling center anytime soon, nor did she comment on the involvement of the department in finding an alternative site or if the people with garden plots now located on about a third of the HANC site would get to keep their plots.

Dunn says at this point he is still trying to figure out what the next step should be.

“We haven’t done much yet,” Dunn said. “We’re still waiting to hear whether we’re supposed to be in the driver’s seat to come up with something with the mayor, if the Department of the Environment is supposed to come up with something with the mayor … if all of us together are supposed to come up with stuff; I’m just not exactly sure what the next step is.”

Turning the Tides-A Call to Action!

A Call to Action!!

 Help Save Kezar Gardens, HANC Recycling Center and Native Plant Nursery!  At a recent meeting with Mayor Ed Lee and his staff, there was openness to discuss the relocation

of the recycling portion of our site WITHIN DISTRICT 5 and to GRANDFATHER in the nursery and garden plots that already exist at the site.

This is good news.  The news is SO good that our opponents are trying to dissuade the Mayor from this new way of thinking.  We need your help NOW more than ever.

The Mayor needs to hear from people like you who use this center and can articulate how it impacts your life in a positive way.

 

Please take a few moments to take action NOW.

Email or write a letter to Mayor Ed Lee in support of his openness to relocate the center within District 5 and grandfather the gardens in their current location.  Request to keep this center OPEN until this process is complete to ensure a vital public service is maintained.

 

You can email the Mayor here: mayoredwinlee@sfgov.org

 

You can send him a letter here: Mayor Ed Lee

City Hall Room 200

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

San Francisco, CA 94102

 

If you have written a letter or postcard of support previously, THANK YOU!  We ask that you reaffirm your support by contacting the Mayor again NOW to respond specifically to his action to look at the relocation potential.


We deeply appreciate the undying support of our community.  Each of you makes a unique contribution to this space and its camaraderie.  Let’s keep the dream alive.  

CALL TO ACTION on IMPROVE SF

Is Kezar Gardens Ecology your favorite place in the neighborhood?  Maybe it gave you your first garden or you come here to recycle a couple times a week.  Maybe you landscaped your home with native plants from Greg’s nursery or your kids came through on an educational tour this year.  Maybe you stopped by our picnic or garden work day or took part in the 1st Annual Easter Egg Hunt earlier this year?  Maybe you plan to come by August 11th and participate in the Great Backyard Bee Count sponsored by http://www.greatsunflower.org?

Whatever the reason you love to use the space at Kezar Gardens, now you can share that love with the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.  They have a new interactive website called http://www.improveSF.com.

You can register and upload a photo of Kezar Gardens as your favorite thing in the neighborhood or LIKE another photo of the Garden already uploaded.  This could be a way to get the attention of the only person who can stop the eviction of Kezar Gardens Ecology Center, the only ecology center of its kind in the city of San Francisco.

Copy and paste the websites addresses to be directed to their sites:

http://www.improveSF.com

http://www.greatsunflower.org

HOW IT WORKS (2 WAYS)

1. Go to http://www.improveSF.comand JOIN by creating a new account or signing in through Facebook

2. Find or Take a snapshot of Kezar Gardens (you can pull one off our site, if you like!)

3. Log In to your account and click on the featured challenge “What is your favorite thing in your neighborhood?”

4. Click on the “Share Your Story” button and upload your picture and comment to their site or click LIKE on another Kezar Gardens photo already uploaded.

5. Send us an email at hancrecycling@gmail.com to let us know what you’ve done!  (feel free to include your snapshot!)

6.  Celebrate yourself and stay tuned for the next CALL TO ACTION

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.