HANC's January Letter to the Rec-Park Commission

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January 24, 2013 

Re: 780 Frederick Street         

Dear Commissioners:                          

       The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) has a number of concerns regarding the site of its former Recycling Center / Native Plant Nursery / Community Garden at 780 Frederick Street. Although we will try to address these concerns during public comment at the January 24 Commission meeting, the concerns may be too numerous to be fully addressed at the hearing, so we are supplementing our comment with this letter.

          1) As far as we know, the last time the site was discussed at a Commission meeting was on December 2, 2010. At that time the action item was to approve a preliminary concept design for community garden plots at 780 Frederick Street. As nothing beyond a preliminary concept design has been approved, why has the Recreation and Parks Department (RPD) been working on the site since early this month? Why is work continuing without further discussion or approval of the scope of work or of any final design?

           2) Why is there presently no community involvement in the planning process for the site? The Golden Gate Park Community Garden Committee, which was chaired by Isabel Wade with assistance from Marvin Yee of RPD met from January, 2011 through June, 2011. Now that RPD has possession of the site, shouldn’t this committee continue meeting to plan and manage the community garden? Why has there been no communication with the neighbors or the local community about specific plans for the site? Why has there been no communication about the site with PROSAC or with the Kezar Advisory Committee?

          3) Why did RPD bulldoze a thriving community garden to build a community garden? Where are the funds for the current work coming from? Why hasn’t RPD spent the funds to improve the pedestrian path in the Panhandle, which has been in dire need of repair for many years?

          4) Shouldn’t the immediate neighbors be notified that RPD is jack hammering asphalt that covers potentially toxic soil? The site used to be a train depot and we believe there are potentially heavy metals, oil, and other toxins being released into the atmosphere. Has the soil been tested? Should there be an environmental impact report before further work continues?

          5) The HANC Recycling Center provided recycling services for Golden Gate Park. Although new recycling containers have recently appeared in Golden Gate Park, it is not clear whether RPD has any established plan for recycling within the Park. On March 8, 2011, the Board of Supervisors adopted Resolution 121-11 which called for, among other things, that the Recreation and Parks Department and the Department of the Environment collaborate with the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council in developing and implementing a recycling program in Golden Gate Park. We have attached a copy of the resolution to this letter. Although HANC no longer runs a recycling center, we still have expertise in recycling and can contribute to the development and implementation of such a plan. In any event, Golden Gate Park (and other RPD facilities) should have a recycling plan.

          6) RPD needs to work with the small business community, and especially the small businesses in the vicinity of the 780 Frederick Street site that sell beverages in recyclable containers, to ensure that the effects of the closure of the HANC recycling center are mitigated. At the very least, there needs to be a process to notify each of these businesses that they will be required to recycle any recyclable containers brought to them or they may face potential $100 per day fines.

         7) The HANC recycling center was closed as a non-conforming, non-recreational use of Golden Gate Park. Has RPD examined other potentially non-conforming, non-recreational uses of the Park? Does the Kezar Parking Lot fit into this category? What about the Park Police Station? Should the RPD and RPC be moved out of McLaren Lodge, so that the building can be converted into a park visitor information center and museum, or be used for other recreational purposes?


Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council

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