Our Loss is No One's Gain: Lies Used to Change Public Policy at the HANC Recycling Center

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On January 3, HANC ended some 35 years of operation of its recycling center after being evicted from the Kezar stadium site at 780 Frederick by the Recreation and Parks Department (RPD). The purpose built location, created when the new Kezar stadium was built in 1990, replaced the old parking lot site on the east side of old Kezar where HANC recycled for most of the 1970’s. 

The center was the last remaining community-based recycling location in western San Francisco. Now recyclers will have to drive to the Bayview to recycle. It had grown into a community garden and a native plant nursery, with 10 employees paid a living wage and provided health benefits, both of which also ceased functioning at the location. Rec and Park claims it will establish a new “community garden” but has refused HANC’s request to honor the existing community gardeners plots at the site nor has it announced any schedule. RPD terminated their “community planning” process for the new garden after support was expressed by neighbors involved for continuing HANC’s role at the site.

The center was the focus of an intense attack by the San Francisco Chronicle in recent years, being the subject of nearly twenty editorials or opinion columns by CW Nevius. It is as if the Chronicle sought to overcome the entire history of the neighborhood in its unprecedented attacks on the lowly recycling center. In the last year of his abbreviated second term, Gavin Newsom directed his General Manager of Rec and Park to evict the center after HANC lead the neighborhood opposition to the Newsom campaign against young people sitting and lying on Haight Street. 

In the course of the long campaign by both the Mayor and the Chronicle a “narrative” was created based upon three often repeated (and self-contradictory) lies:

  1. 1.The center had “outlived its usefulness” as curbside pickup made it pointless; the center attracted homeless people to the neighborhood and Golden Gate Park; 
  2. 2.The center was “banned” by the Golden Gate Park Master Plan, and, as ol’ CW liked to say the City “did not want it anymore”.
  3. 3.Residents of the neighborhood opposed it and wanted it

Like most manufactured “narratives” aimed at shifting public policy they are difficult to refute as reality is a little more complex than a falsely simple story line and requires an argument that makes sense only to folks paying attention. Yet, to the chagrin of both Newsom and the Chronicle people paid attention and the “lies of the lying liars” were exposed.

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