A neighborhood group that runs a recycling collection center at the edge of Golden Gate Park is arguing that an eviction notice the center received was posted illegally by the city.
Before Mayor Gavin Newsom leaves office for a job in Sacramento as California’s lieutenant general, his administration is working to evict the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) facility. It claims that the recycling center creates crime by providing financial support to people who camp in the park and steal empty bottles and cans from curbside bins.
HANC officials say the eviction is politically motivated. The recycling center raises funds for community projects administered by HANC, whose leadership has opposed many of Newsom's moderate and conservative policies, such as a ban on sitting or lying down on sidewalks.
On Friday, following a unanimous vote by Recreation and Park commissioners to endorse plans to build community garden plots at the site of the recycling center, city officials sent a 90-day eviction notice to the council.
HANC attorney Robert De Vries, however, wrote in a letter to the city that the quarterly nature of his client’s rent payments protects the recycling facility from eviction for at least six months.
“HANC cannot be forced to vacate the space it occupies until the expiration of its lease at the end of June, and the rendering of a judgment against it in an unlawful detainer action should HANC choose to fight the eviction,” De Vries wrote in the Dec. 2 letter. “HANC has no intention of vacating the premises any earlier than legally required. HANC is also not willing to allow disruptive construction work or other activities to go forward on the leased property while it is in possession.”
HANC Executive Director Ed Dunn said the organization plans to take advantage of the additional time by drumming up political support for the ongoing operation of its recycling facility from an interim mayor, who would serve until an election is held later in the new year.
“This mayor is creating a huge mess for the next mayor to clean up,” Dunn said.
Recreation and Park Department spokeswoman Sarah Ballard, however, said the department has consulted with the City Attorney’s office and disagrees with HANC’s legal interpretation of its status.
“We believe that the Lease is a quarterly holdover, consistent with the rent payments (that are made quarterly), and that the termination notice was properly given,” Ballard said in an e-mail.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, whose district includes the Haight Ashbury neighborhood, has called for a board hearing into the eviction and called on the city's parks department to relocate the recycling facility to alternative city land if it must be evicted from its present location.
"The Rec and Park Department and the Mayor's Office should not treat HANC with a vindictive nature," Mirkarimi said. "The process was what was broken here. I think that no matter what one's feelings are about the HANC recycling center, there was no reason for this to be as adversarial as it was. HANC has been there for several decades. They have contributed to the city’s environmental goals and recycling environmental goals."