Report from SoMa neighbors regarding the 10th and Harrison recycling center

from SF SoMa Neighbors:

Last week approximately 70 residents and local business owners attended a neighborhood meeting concerning the proposed recycling/buyback center at 10th and Harrison Streets. Almost everyone in the audience was opposed.

Sunny Angulo, an aide in Supervisor Kim’s office moderated the meeting. She stated that Our Planet Recycling was issued a permit in error, and that they would be required, per a letter from the City Zoning Administrator, to re-apply for permits. This will require neighborhood notification, and the neighbors can then file appeals to block or modify the permit. Neighbors could also file with the Planning Department for a Discretionary Review (DR).  

The operator of the center made a presentation at the start of the meeting. Although acknowledging errors in the process (performing work without a permit), he still intends to open. He currently operates a recycling center on Bayshore, and is anxious to open in SOMA as the Market Street Safeway recycling center is closing soon (this is all about getting those Market Street clients to start bringing bottles and cans to SOMA for his own profit). He is planning for walk-ins and shopping carts only. He does not plan for vehicle drop off but offered no details as to how that would be enforced. Several people mentioned there is no parking on the Harrison Street Side at any time, and no parking during both morning and evening rush hours on the 10th St side.

Neighbors expressed numerous concerns. Their primary focus was the hazardous traffic conditions at 10th/Harrison Street, along with the very narrow sidewalks at the site. Traffic at that intersection is often either backed up or races to get to the freeways. SFPD noted last year that the 10th Street corridor had the second highest rate for running red lights throughout the Southern Station jurisdiction. Sidewalks have less than 6 feet of clearance between the fence line and the sidewalk tree cutouts, meaning the sidewalk would be blocked for everyone as soon as any carts lined up to get in. If bags of bottles were attached, they would block even more of the sidewalk. The buyback center operator offered no details as to how people in wheelchair or strollers would pass by the blocked sidewalk without having to step into traffic on both sides of the proposed facility. There were also no details offered as to how the site would be supervised when patrons started lining up before business hours. Additional concerns included cleanliness of the facility, abandoned recycling bins and shopping carts at the site, a lack of public restrooms in the neighborhood, and bottles and cans pilfered from bins throughout the neighborhood and city.

Supervisor Kim eventually spoke, and stated that if the neighbors concerns could not be adequately addressed, then her office would be unable to support the project. She also stated that she had heard from “some people who supported the project”, which was an interesting twist, as only a single person other than the operator or city officials spoke strongly in favor of the project. She also said that she was “not convinced that this was a bad idea for the neighborhood”. However, she did not identify herself as a resident of the neighborhood and it was not clear where she lives.

Several residents pointed out that the problem is ultimately one that Supervisor Kim’s office must take a lead in solving, as traffic concerns, and pedestrian safety issues aren’t problems which the buyback center can realistically resolve on their own. Several people urged that Supervisor Kim’s office should step up and find a more suitable site, where people won’t be having to cross the street in front of hundreds of cars turning to get onto the freeway.

One person in attendance suggested a small change in zoning boundaries which would solve the problem, at least for the land owner and the neighborhood opponents. The parcel’s current zoning imposes severe limits on what can be placed there. The Dore Alley residential enclave zoning extends along Harrison almost to the corner, excluding only the two lots closest to 10th. Extending that zoning would allow many other more appropriate uses for the corner. It is well within Supervisor Kim’s jurisdiction to propose such a boundary alteration. Supervisor Kim’s office seems to be going all out in support of changing the zoning designation at the corner of 11th and Folsom to allow a proposed nightclub.

In the end, there was agreement to form a group of residents, led by Jim Mannix to meet with Supervisor Kims’ office and the buyback center to address these concerns. Kim’s office is supposed to take the lead to schedule that meeting, but to date, there has been no communication from them.

In the interim, the buyback center has launched their own petition, urging Kim to support their location at 10th and Harrison. That petition invokes the general support of recycling and ecological consciousness, with no mention of the specific problems associated with this particular site. Among the signatories are people who clearly have no relationship with this city, much less the neighborhood. The signatories included people from Fairfield, Spring Valley, San Jose, Salida, Fremont and Sacramento in California, as well as individuals from Reno, Nevada, Baton Rouge Louisiana, and Hong Kong.

Please share this info with neighbors, ask them to contact Supervisor Kim’s office and ask her to find a safer, more suitable location for this business. (415) 554-7970

You can sign our petition asking for the Supervisor’s support in keeping our neighborhood safe and finding a more suitable location for this business at



Filed under community services, meetings, planning, politics, quality of life

3 responses to “Report from SoMa neighbors regarding the 10th and Harrison recycling center

  1. I am very sorry I didn’t attend this meeting. I would have spoken in favor of creating some recycling center in our area to replace the Safeway one that is being closed. Whether this particular location is right, I don’t know, but there imperatively needs to be a recycling center here for humanitarian as well as environmental reasons. I believe the Coalition on Homelessness is also in favor of maintaining a recycling center in this area.

    Regarding the objections above, please think very carefully how much of the distaste being expressed here is for the literal physical circumstances of a recycling center, and how much is based on assumptions about the kinds of people who make money by collecting and bringing in items for recycling.

    Recycling is an honorable, useful profession that is among the few means available to very poor people to earn money legally.

    This is not purely a matter of profit for the recycling center. This is a matter of sustaining a lifeline for the poorest members of this neighborhood.

    Please reflect further that, if people who collect cans don’t have a local recycling center to go to directly, they will end up pushing or carrying loads of recyclables for miles to the nearest buyback center (wrecking their shoulders and backs in the process) or selling to middlemen who pull up curbside trucks, who take a cut of the proceeds and leave the poorest collectors with even less for their efforts.

    Do you want to cause frail elderly and homeless people who are struggling at the very edge of our polarized economy to walk long distances into other neighborhoods with heavy loads every day and/or do you want to cause them to get less money for their difficult work just because you think a recycling center isn’t a nice amenity?

    • Process This

      This is about the current Western SOMA plan and zoning. There are plenty of other sites with much better locations and surrounding traffic patterns and land use to avoid the operational concerns that recycling centers bring.

  2. Brian Wallace

    What is the precise location of the proposed site? Are we talking about that tiny lot next to 1385 Harrison Street, across from Costco and the do-it-yourself car wash?

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