San Francisco Fights Over Its Character ... 1960s history threatened?





An effort to clean up some of the city's seedier neighborhoods and rid the streets of junkies, hookers and runaways has run headlong into San Francisco's free-to-be-who-you-are ethos.

Nearly four decades after the Summer of Love, residents and merchants frustrated with what they regard as blight are turning to the city for help or taking revitalization into their own hands.

But other residents of the Tenderloin district and Haight-Ashbury contend a crackdown would rob their neighborhoods of their identity and violate everything San Francisco stands for.

Joey Cain, a board member of the Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood Council, complained that those who would drive the vagrants from the neighborhood are turning their backs on the Haight's "historic obligation" to shelter the downtrodden.

This is, after all, the city that proved so appealing to the Beats, the hippies and practically every other brand of noncomformist.

Haight-Ashbury was the very capital of the Summer of Love in 1967, when young people flocked for the music, sexual freedom and drug culture. They are still coming, panhandling on corners and sleeping under the trees in nearby Golden Gate Park.


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