Tensions rise between guerrilla gardeners and neighboring businesses

Three men, allegedly dispatched by Mission real estate agent Louis Cornejo, were tasked Wednesday night with moving seven huge plantations away from the west gate of the disputed Lot 36.

This is not an easy task. Each planter installed on site by the green space advocacy group Mission Greenway weighs hundreds of pounds. A local resident saw the trio use a pickup truck and wooden ramps to haul the pots about 100 feet northeast of the gate. Several pots appeared to have been broken in transit and the bottom of one appeared to be partially collapsed.

The next morning, drag marks in the mud showed where the pots had been pulled. Mission Greenway member Lara Hanna, who helped set up the garden, isn’t impressed.

“This guy thinks he’s above the law,” Hannah said. “That’s what’s disgusting.” Hannah called the incident “illegal moving and vandalism”.

Cornejo’s nightly plantation escapades are the latest escalation in tensions between Mission Greenway and a group of aggrieved neighbors adjoining the disputed parcel. The 23,522-square-foot lot, which cuts a diagonal line on a block at 22nd and Harrison Streets, has unknown ownership but has been fenced off for decades and reserved for nearby businesses. In October, Mission Greenway cut the chains on the fence, created a daisy-chain lock to access the site itself, and created a garden inside. A number of neighboring businesses have since hired a lawyer to file claims on the site, and the relationship between the two groups has been rocky.

Louis Cornejo allegedly directed workers to move the Mission Greenway plantation Wednesday night. Photos of local residents.
The corner of one flower pot appeared to be partially collapsed. Photo by Will Jarrett.
Map of disputed parcel 36 by Will Jarrett. Basemap from Mapbox.

Cornejo is the realtor for the Heinzer warehouse, which adjoins Parcel 36 and uses the land for access to the loading dock. The warehouse has been up for sale since its artist tenant was evicted last fall. Cornejo declined to comment directly on the incident, but referred to a statement from attorney Stephen Preonas, who was employed by warehouses and other businesses around the property.

“We found no damage,” Preonas said in an email. “The owner may have moved the plantation which interfered with commercial operations.”

In a video Hannah filmed the day after the plantation was moved, Cornejo said the land was “private property” and that trucks needed gates to get in and out. Where the pots were planted, one of the large double doors on the west side can still be opened, but the second is blocked. “What you did was malicious,” Conejo said.

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