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Monday, December 3, 2012

Kezar Gardens: Haight Recycling Center to Close This Week

Posted By on Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 6:15 AM


In a move surely motivated by the Christmas spirit, the city's Recreation and Parks Department evicted one of the only recycling centers in Haight-Ashbury, Kezar Gardens.

Last week, sheriff's deputies arrived to boot employees, marking the end of an 18-month fight to keep the recycling center open. Rec and Parks has been trying to close the center, which has been at 780 Frederick St. for 40 years, and replace it with gardens of its own.

The center, run by the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council, employs 10 people, hosts more than 100 San Francisco gardeners, and boasts a community garden and native plant nursery.

See also: Haight Recycling Center Advocates to Stage Protest Using Recycled Chains

Rec and Parks had been trying for a long time to shut down the recycling center, which argued that it was being discriminated against because of its homeless clientele. Kezar Gardens is a nonprofit, state-mandated recycling center, native plant nursery, and 51-plot community garden used by hundreds of San Francisco residents and small businesses.

Park officials first tried to evict the center in June 2011, saying they wanted to turn the area into a garden. The recycling center fought back, taking their case to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the complaint. Folks at the center were, however, granted a reprieve in October, as both sides tried to come to a compromise; obviously, that didn't work out.

On Tuesday, Park and Rec officials visited the center during what HANC Executive Director Ed Dunn initially called a "positive" meeting. But then things went sour last week when the city came back with an eviction notice, aiming to displace the group this week.

"The city is excited to move forward with the neighborhood-driven project to convert the site to a community garden," says Sarah Ballard, Rec and Parks spokeswoman.

The fight to keep the center open has highlighted the continued gentrification of the city and changing neighborhood demographics. While supporters of the center describe it as one of the things that helped make San Francisco great, other groups have complained about the large number of homeless campers in nearby Golden Gate Park who use it as a way to make quick cash.

Dunn defends the center by comparing it to a corner liquor store that happens to sell to homeless customers. "Recycling is just another part of the city," says Dunn.

The recycling center, which has been operated by the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council since 1974, has likened this fight to the civil rights movement and the struggle for equality.

The center isn't giving up hope just yet; it's Facebook page trying to rally more supporters before the Dec. 5 deadline.

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