Protesters arrested as bulldozers move in on HANC


The city closed the gates on Friday and that was a peaceful procedure, but the crews moved in to dismantle the place on Monday and Tuesday a few protesters tried to stop them.

The Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council Recycling Center was evicted and demolished. Valuable property was carted away before the heavy machinery moved in, but a handful of supporters refused to move out of the way. Five were arrested between Monday night and Tuesday morning, including "Freedom" -- a woman who tried to block a bulldozer.

"This space has been very beautiful, and full of life and love," said Freedom.

The recycling center known as HANC has been operating for decades on a slice of Golden Gate Park, near Kezar Stadium, and for several years the city has been trying to give it the boot saying it doesn't fit in with the serenity of the park. Some residents of the surrounding neighborhoods also complained.

"It became a very active industrial use with lots of neighborhood noise and disruption, and less and less service to the neighborhood," said Richard Magary, a neighborhood activist.

But neighborhood activist Martha Hoffman who lives two blocks away is distraught about the closure.

Hoffman: It's really terrible. It's just outrageous.
Tyler: Why do you say that?
Hoffman: I've been a part of this center for about 15 years and it's been a really positive neighborhood positive. [sic]

The city plans to turn the plot into community gardens. HANC supporters find that ironic since the recycling center had recently put in a plant nursery, but after spending thousands of dollars in a legal fight, the city is ready to move on.

"People are excited to enjoy it as a community garden hub, and I think, if we can get on with creating the site, people will be really happy," said Phil Ginsburg from the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

HANC's lease had been up for about 10 years. The executive director of that former recycling center says he believes some of his supporters will now try to take part in the city's community gardens. The first phase of that project should come in early spring.

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