Posts tagged ‘occupy-wall-street’

At SF City Hall-one hand does not talk to the other

pinocchio

 

One arm of city government plans emergency hearings on the lack of recycling in SF, another arm evicts the oldest recycling center in the urban area.  The hypocrisy of SF is not only brimming with cruel irony but will also have a hugely negative impact on recycling mandates, small businesses, and communities who garden.

Please come out to City Hall tomorrow from 2-4pm and hear the the urgent discussion with the Small Business Commission on the lack of recycling available in SF.  Agenda item 6  covers the convenience zone areas and will deal with this issue.  On Dec 10, there will be a full board meeting on this as well.

The Recreation and Park Department refuses to work with any other city agency on this issue and are quite comfortable costing hundreds of business owners-big and small-and thousands of San Franciscan citizens-huge sums of money so they can build a tax-payer funded garden for forty people who pre-reserved their spots in this very, very fancy new space.  The Rec and Park garden has no final budget and no published time line-there has been no advancement of work on the plan that is now over two years old.

When our native plant nursery founder and a number of community gardeners expressed their concerns to Sarah Ballard, they were only met with the uncharitable and inequitable answer that Rec Park plans to tear up the the asphalt and the gardens and not to offer any spaces to people who have been growing there for a year now. 

Between the lack of recycling and the lack of gardens in this city, there is no rhetorical way to justify removing a nonprofit that provides both.  But the Rec and Park Department does not care to justify their work on behalf of the city and its citizens, they also do not care what the needs of the city are, they operate with autonomy and they like it that way.  It’s their party and they will cry and take their toys home if they want to.

As of today, the Sheriff has not come to shut us down as Rec and Park would have wanted.  We don’t know how much longer we have but its up to our leaders to speak up about this issue NOW.

Eric Mar-hear our call and make a bold statement about a place that serves the community you represent!  We need your leadership NOW.  Protect the unheard voices of Chinese people and other Asians that help sustain themselves through recycling at our center.  Speak for them!

 

And PEOPLE, demand Sarah Ballard, Marvin Yee and Phil Ginsburg uphold the process they agreed to when this garden plan was initiated.  There is to be an advisory council made up of the public that advises Rec and Park how to proceed with their plan.  Why is the Advisory Council not in session?  Demand they reinstate this policy advising body immediately!  The advisory council should be making recommendations on the current gardeners status and future in the space not an autonomous Rec and Park Department.

peoplespeakkarma

 

 

 

 

 

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.