There was another dustup this week between some guerrilla gardeners and home-grown internet company Monkeybrains over the contested Parcel 36 in the Mission District, and this time a punch was thrown.
Passions run hot with regard to the abandoned railway spur that runs between 22nd Street and Treat Avenue, which for years has been home to a community garden but the legal ownership of which remains a bit of a mystery. And new tensions have arisen since a new property owner, Monkeybrains, took possession of one of the warehouses that backs up to the parcel, and began parking its vans in back, with the intention of using a loading and unloading area.
The guerrilla gardners of Mission Greenway pried their way back onto the land last fall, cutting through some new fencing, with the help of Zach Klein, co-founder of Vimeo. And that followed five years of efforts to reclaim the land for community use, and gardening, with the city unable to produce a title or officially take possession of it, due to some snafu of lost paperwork and deed transfers. (Mission Greenway's Elizabeth Creely narrated the parcel's history for Mission Local back in 2017.)
On Wednesday evening, as Mission Local reports, there was an extended shouting match between Creely and Monkeybrains cofounder Rudy Rucker. This followed the installation of a 10-foot-long wood and metal frame, which the gardners seem to suggest is a frame intended to form a concrete barrier — but Monkeybrains told Mission Local it was a "planter box."
The fight, some of which was captured on cellphone video shared with Mission Local, escalated with Creely's husband, Jay Martin, insisted that there could be "no more cement" poured in the area.
Allegedly, Creely knocked a bag of Cheetos out of Rucker's hand as the fight escalated, she began filming him, he knocked her cellphone out of her hand, and she punched him in the face — as she admits to Mission Local. On the video, you can hear Creely yell "I will fuck you up!"
Noting that Rucker is much larger than her, Creely tells Mission Local, "I hit him in the face, and that was absolutely my right to do. Knocking my cell phone out of my hand is physical assault. This is not the moment when physically aggressive actions by men toward women will be tolerated."
Monkeybrains' other co-founder, Alex Menendez, tells Mission Local they are "working with" the SFPD on the matter. Creely said she called the cops as the incident escalated, and the SFPD tried to direct everyone involved to conflict-resolution non-profit Community Boards.
Meanwhile, attorneys for various city departments are trying to sort out who owns the land, and Monkeybrains has been trying to get permits from both interior and exterior work — though they say their current "landscaping" work doesn't require any permits.
In April, the SF Board of Appeals tossed out a permit that had been granted by the city and challenged by Mission Greenway for Monkeybrains to construct a new fence at the northern end of the parcel, for which they say they have an easement.
This is reportedly the third times the SFPD has been called amid conflicts at the property, which Mission Greenway members have also had with an adjacent preschool called Mission Kids.
It's a very San Francisco fight — especially the part about people fighting over property that doesn't belong to them. And maybe the city can resolve this soon before someone gets hurt?