Arrests were made earlier this week in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco when members of the general public made an attempt to stop bulldozers from beginning to demolish The Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council Recycling Center. Five people were arrested in this thwarted display of public unrest, one of them being a woman named Freedom who said, “This space has been very beautiful, and full of life and love.” The recycling center has been in operation since 1980 but has recently come under fire from the city as being outdated and unnecessary. This is because most residents have converted to using the curbside method to handle their recycling waste removal.
Since 2010 the city has been attempting to have the facility shut down, which had been run by the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council since its creation. This has finally occurred and the demolition began this week. Although there are certainly conflicting opinions about this decision, as the protestors and arrests would suggest. According to a statement by the San Francisco Chronicle, “The closure ends a neighborhood sore point and recognizes that the noisy, messy business isn’t needed anymore. It allows park officials to reclaim a corner of the park for more fitting use.” To supporters of the closing, it’s about the opinion that if people already have the proper trash bins needed to recycle their refuse then there is no need for a facility in the neighborhood to physically take their debris.
Protestors and people in defense of the recycling center have claimed it to be an act of gentrification since the primary users of the facility in the recent years had been the homeless who use it to recycle bottles and cans for cash. This even went so far as the HANC filing a lawsuit against the city in 2011 claiming discrimination against the homeless in that neighborhood. According to Robert De Vries who represented the HANC for the suit, “This is part of nonauthentic, nongentrified San Francisco. Certainly it’s true some new people don’t like the old Haight-Ashbury. This is a social issue and I don’t think policy should be based on it.” In other words, people who cannot afford their own waste containers should not be deprived of their own source of recycling.
Regardless of one’s stance on this issue, it is certainly a sign of the times. Recycling has become so prevalent that it is now being conducted on a personal level as opposed to on a community scale. We are officially one step closer to in-home trash receptacles that sort your waste upon entry and send it to the proper facilities automatically. Or maybe even an age of no more trash bin usage where we all have robots that handle our waste collection and disposal.