Sigh. A group of protesters who have given up on the Occupy the Farm protest in Albany (and various Occupy stragglers from elsewhere), have set up camp on the site of the recently closed Hayes Valley Farm. Why? Because they like green space. Also, they don't like the fact that an urban farm with a temporary lease on public land is not allowed to exist forever and ever.
With chalk on the pavement and various signage, they've redubbed the place Gezi Gardens, in symbolic solidarity with protests happening this week in Taksim Square in Istanbul. (The highly politicized protests in Turkey have little to no connection to the Occupy movement; however, one of the protesters' demands is the protection of the public park, Gezi Park in Taksim Square, which is proposed for destruction to make way for an Ottoman-era replica. The park is loved by many in the city, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is blamed for some recent tree cutting, against the presumed will of the people.)
We suppose this Hayes Valley protest was inevitable given that a) this is San Francisco, and b) there are a fair number of people here who would subscribe to the simple dichotomy of "urban farm=good/condos=bad." But there's more to this, of course, and the reasonable people behind Hayes Valley Farm have nothing to do with the current be-in and have no comment on these occupiers. As one of the commenters on the Breaking News post on Hayeswire put it last weekend, "This is why we can't have nice things."
SF Weekly's Anna Roth attended a community meeting held by the occupiers of Gezi Gardens on Tuesday night, and she concludes they have no real pragmatic goals beyond making a bit of noise for a while. (Some tree-sitting may occur, and they have re-planted some vegetables.) Police have visited the camp a couple of times, but have no immediate plans to raid it so long as it remains peaceful.
The fact remains that the land, formerly the on- and off-ramps at Fell and Oak for the Central Freeway, was sold to a developer, and the organizers of Hayes Valley Farm agreed to a temporary set-up, to enliven what would have otherwise been vacant land for several years. The proposed buildings will include 185 market-rate condos, and half the site is slated to become low-income housing. The Hayes Valley Farm people peacefully closed the place after much advanced notice last Saturday, June 1. Had the urban farm never existed, we doubt this land deal would have gotten on the radars of protesters because, well, buildings are going up all over town, and this wouldn't have been considered "green space." (One current condo project is even planned for semi-public land, namely this huge one at 8th and Harrison.)
If you'd like to hear more about what's up, or voice your opinion about all this, there is another community meeting and barbecue planned for Saturday, June 8, at 3 p.m.