By Calvin Welch, HANC Board
This November will be fifth anniversary of the passage of the deeply controversial--at least in this neighborhood--Sit/Lie law by the voters of San Francisco, which made it a jailable offense to sit or lie on a public sidewalk . One month later the Recreation and Parks Commission voted to end some 30 years of operation of the HANC recycling center at Kezar Stadium. Both actions were sold by both the Gavin Newsom administration (chiefly. Rec and Parks General Manager Ginsburg and Chief of staff Steve Kawa) and the Chronicle (chiefly through the ranting of columnist CW Nevius) as effective measures to reduce homelessness in the Haight-Ashbury. It didn’t quite turn out that way, however. Not even close.
Newsom/Chronicle Create False Narrative
The Chronicle was particularly active in leading the charge on both Sit/Lie and closing the recycling center. In one incredible 28 day period (from December 18, 2009 to January 16, 2010) it published seven editorials, “news” stories or Nevius columns on homeless people in the Haight-Ashbury and the need for new legislation and the closure of the recycling center as a solution to the issue—this amounted to, on average, publishing one piece every four days. Nevius called the recycling center the “homeless ATM” implying that it attracted folks to the district. The simple fact was that the homeless population was actually declining, and the people attracted to the recycling center were neighborhood residents who lived in apartment buildings and did not have curbside pick up but did have environmental values: traditional Haight-Ashburyans.