Eviction imminent for San Francisco Community Recycler's Center

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A sleepy yet dedicated crowd turned out for an early-morning eviction defense for the recycling center.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE

This morning (Wed/16), outside the San Francisco Community Recycler's Center in the parking lot of the Safeway at Church and Market streets, a group of protesters stood in a cluster, chanting: “Cans not condos!”

As the Guardian previously reported, Safeway is in the process of evicting the recycling center, which continued to operate up until yesterday. The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, which carries out evictions on Wednesdays, had signaled to the center’s operators that they could be forced out anytime after July 16.

That led supporters and volunteers with the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness to show up at 5:30am in a bid to beat the sheriff there. They stood on the sidewalk outside the recycling center’s locked gate, waving signs.

“We’ll be holding space as long as we can,” Lisa-Marie Altorre, of the Coalition on Homelessness, told the Guardian a little after 7am. Calls to the Sheriff’s Department were not returned, but Altorre said around 12:15 that supporters had received "official word" that the eviction would be going forward, "likely later in the day."

[UPDATE: Sheriff's Department deputies showed up at 7am the next morning to enforce the eviction, and the center is now closed.]

Sup. Scott Wiener told the Guardian in an earlier interview that his District 8 constituents had complained about the recycling center’s presence, saying the facility draws too many unruly patrons, who are often homeless. A new condominium development looms over the recycling center from one direction, while a mixed-use condo development with a Whole Foods on the ground floor lies just across the street.

But recycling center operators argue that the eviction will be harmful to patrons, who need the extra money to get by, and that it will erode the city's environmental goals. There's also an issue of impacts on surrounding small businesses, which could be required under state law to accept recycling in-store, a burdensome task for smaller retailers, or to pay fees.

“Eliminating community-based recycling has grave impacts on San Francisco, from public safety to huge environmental fails, including moving us away from goals of being Zero Waste in 2020,” said Ed Dunn of the San Francisco Community Recyclers Center. Dunn was previously affiliated with the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council Recycling Center, which was evicted from a parking lot in Golden Gate Park. "It is sad to think any elected leader would support a move like this," Dunn said, "and a corporation like Safeway would get away with turning their back on their corporate civic responsibility to something as vital as recycling.”