Haight Street - hippiedom and sophistication
Stephanie Wright Hession
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Haight Street intermingles '60s hippiedom with contemporary
sophistication. Locals debate which is better - the Haight-Ashbury or
the Lower Haight? The vintage shops and alternative lifestyle
businesses or the stylish, modern restaurants and fashionable
boutiques? Regardless, it continues to attract the free-spirited, the
young and the tourists, who make a pilgrimage of sorts to visit its
1. Roberts Hardware
1629 Haight St.: This neighborhood hardware store offers the promise
of possibilities. Whether choosing a small, potted Christmas tree,
buying a new faucet for the kitchen sink or picking up baking
supplies, you'll be ready for the holidays in no time. (415)
2. The Red Victorian
1665 Haight St.: This turn-of-the-century hotel - originally named
the Jefferson Hotel - morphed into the "Jeffrey Haight," a flower
child hangout. Today it houses the Peace Cafe, a Peace Arts Gift Shop
and a funky bed and breakfast with 18 themed rooms, including the
aptly named Summer of Love Room. (415) 864-1978, www.redvic.com.
3. La Rosa Vintage Boutique
1711 Haight St.: With this boutique's strapless cocktail dresses,
faux leopard coats, a gold mesh clutch with coordinating pumps, long
red gloves and other chic attire, you can became anyone you want to
be: Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Betty Draper, Bianca
Jagger or Cyndi Lauper. (415) 668-3744.
4. Red Vic Movie House
1727 Haight St.: For those tired of viewing films in large,
impersonal, stadium-style multiplexes, catch a new independent film
or documentary at this locally owned and operated movie house.
Between its cozy seating, amiable employees and organic snacks, it's
an inviting setting in which to watch a movie. (415) 668-3994,
5. Amoeba Music
1855 Haight St.: Allow plenty of time at Amoeba Music. Take a look at
the artwork outside before sampling music at the listening stations
and flipping through the massive collections of records, CDs and
DVDs. It also buys used records, CDs and DVDs and hosts live music
events. (415) 831-1200, www.amoeba.com.
6. Skates on Haight
1818 Haight St.: Some skateboarders opened this shop more than 30
years ago and it used to rent roller skates for tooling around Golden
Gate Park. Now it's all about skateboards - longboards, old school
boards and mini boards, including custom-made versions. It carries
skate parts, clothing and shoes, too. (415) 752-8375, www.skatesonhaight.com.
Limited, metered street parking on Haight Street and adjacent streets.
By car: From Highway 101 north, continue on to the Central Freeway.
Take the Octavia Boulevard/Fell Street exit and turn left on to Fell
Street. Turn left on to Masonic Avenue and turn right on to Haight
Street. From Interstate 80 west, take Hwy. 101 north and follow the
Public transit: Muni routes 33, 37, 43, 71 and 71-L serve the upper
Haight. (415) 701-2311, www.sfmta.com.
GOOD TO KNOW
Learn about the history of the electric guitar in Davis Guggenheim's
documentary "It Might Get Loud," featuring guitarists Jack White, the
Edge and Jimmy Page, showing at 7:15 and 9:20 tonight at the Red Vic
Stephanie Wright Hession, email@example.com
Time to get tough on toughs in the Haight
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Haight-Ashbury may be its own worst enemy. The neighborhood that
hosted the Summer of Love 40 years ago has developed a nasty edge.
Sleepy stoner panhandlers have given way to aggressive street punks
who stand in the path of pedestrians and demand payment. Park Station
police Capt. Teresa Barrett suggests watching "Haight Street" on
YouTube to see the mind-set. One kid says if you have the money to
shop on Haight, you'd damn well better kick in $20.
But the city - particularly Haight-Ashbury - has clung to its image
as understanding and tolerant. Attempts to install a sit/lie law that
would prohibit camping on the sidewalk for hours at a time have gone
nowhere. Too mean, too restrictive, critics say.
The neighborhood may have finally reached its tipping point.
Haight-Ashbury is as much of a landmark tourist stop as Fisherman's
Wharf or Union Square. Would this kind of harassment be tolerated there?
"We feel that we are a wonderful neighborhood," said Joe Goldmark,
one of the partners at Amoeba Music on Haight. "But because it is the
Haight, we don't get the respect." That's certainly not true now.
Merchants, residents and police are voicing their concerns and are
ready for action. "We've got a lieutenant walking the street with
four officers. We are arresting everybody and his brother," said Park
Station Capt. Teresa Barrett, who said there were seven arrests and
nine dog citations Friday.
The district's supervisor, Ross Mirkarimi, who has long been an
advocate of police foot patrols, saw it as an opportunity to nudge
the Police Department toward his idea of community policing.
"There is no excuse for this area to be in this level of distress,"
he said. "It will not be tolerated."
Haight Street is a microcosm for the street scene in the city. If a
test program works there, it will become the new standard across town.
Most residents seem delighted to have the increased attention, but
are a little frustrated to keep hearing that this is just a
continuation of a long-standing problem. "Personally, I have never
been afraid to walk the streets until a couple of months ago," said
David Crommie, who has lived in the neighborhood 25 years. "These new
kids are pretty confrontational. They're different than the old Deadheads."
There's also a dose of cynicism from the longtime residents. They
went through the crack dealer epidemic and the skinhead invasion and
now this. "The police are perfectly willing to do what we want done,"
said Bruce Lyall, who has been at Recycled Records for 31 years. "But
I think they've become aware that a lot of what they are doing
(arrests and citations) are being undone by the courts." Mirkarimi
disagrees. He is convinced that the district attorney, the courts,
and the police can pull together to target the worst offenders.
Finding another way
"Why are we not enforcing the laws that are on the books?" he asked.
"There is a kind of resignation here that this is going to be a
no-win situation. But we are responsible for making this a win."
Maybe so. But some neighbors say that the only way things improved in
the past was when they found another way.
Barrett, who was an officer at Park Station before becoming captain,
recalls Residents Against Druggies who patrolled the streets at night
wearing electric green shirts. They stood conspicuously next to drug
dealers. Eventually the dealers became so uncomfortable they left.
Lyall recalls another solution that wasn't so subtle, when a group of
skinheads took over the street years ago, harassing pedestrians and
aggressively panhandling. "So one of the merchants contacted a friend
of his with Hell's Angels," Lyall said. "The guy came down here, went
up to the skinheads, and said, 'Get the hell out of this
neighborhood.' And it worked."
But before we bring in the bikers again, let's see if City Hall can
C.W. Nevius' column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail
him at firstname.lastname@example.org.