Haight Ashbury - the new Yuppie destination

The LA Times last week had a revealing article about how the ex-hippies who settled in San Francisco's fabled Haight Ashbury are turning against the new breed of homeless youth that populate the neighborhood. For example:
Evans [...] has never seen anything like this crowd, who use his flower bed as a bathroom and sell pot outside his window.

They're known as gutter punks, these homeless kids with dirty dreadlocks and nose rings, lime-green mohawks and orange spray-painted faces, who panhandle with cardboard signs that riff on their lifestyles. "Please Help Us Get Un-Sober," one reads. Another: "Please Give Us Weed, Beer or Money." Sometimes aggressive, they block sidewalks as they strum guitars or bang on bongos. Gangs of them skateboard down the middle of Haight Street. Some throw used hypodermic needles into a nearby pond they call Hep-C Lake.

Evans, 64, says they should get help, clean up or go home.

"I used to be a hippie. I wore beads and grew my hair long," he said. "But my generation had something these kids do not: a standard of civilized behavior."

Panhandler Jonah Lawrence, 25, insists it is residents who need civilizing. "They say, 'Get a job!' " he said. "And I say, 'You got clothes for me? Or a place I can take a shower so I can look for work?' It's so bogus to tell me to get a job if I have nothing."

In the 40 years since 1967's Summer of Love, Haight-Ashbury has remained a beacon for drifters, dreamers and dropouts. Most are drawn by the Haight's reputation as a safe place to hang out, experiment with drugs and search for life's direction.

Surprisingly, the Haight has become one of the hotter neighborhoods (the more red, the more expensive) in the City...

I think it's because of the housing stock of large Victorians that can be fixed up as mansions, but I've asked the question "Why is the Haight so hot these days?" on Trulia Voices. My friends who live in the Haight mirror the sentiments of the LA Times article - it's one of the few neighborhoods in the City that attract the transient tourist, and for newcomers, the intrusive nature of the street culture is a surprise.

If you're interested in living in the Haight, it's worthwhile to do a neighborhood check:
  • Can you hear those bongos up the street? Are those windows double or triple paned to keep out that 2:00am street partying noise?
  • Anybody selling drugs in the neighborhood? According to WeBeHigh.com,  the Haight is still the neighborhood to score and you don't want your driveway to be blocked by a stream of drive by shoppers.
  • Check up on the housing history. just for psychic well being - it may be a tourist attraction, or have a unseemly past. Here are a few famous addresses from Wikitravel  Haight Ashbury.
710 Ashbury St.-The Grateful Dead; 719 Ashbury St.- The Hell's Angels; 635 Ashbury St., 122 Lyon- Janis Joplin; 612 Ashbury St.- Country Joe McDonald; 2400 Fulton St.-The Jefferson Airplane/Starship; 1018 Page St.-Big Brother and the Holding Company; 1550 Page St.- "Hippie Temptation" house (site of CBS documentary); 1828 Page St.-Ron Donovan (psychedelic concert poster artist); 879 Haight St.-Flipper (famous punk band); 635 Cole St.- Charles Manson; 731 Buena Vista West- Graham Nash (and several owners later) Bobby McFerrin; 264 Downey St.- Michael McClure (Beat-era playwrite, poet); 1235 Masonic Ave.- Patty Hearst hid in Symbionese Liberation Army safe-house here; 32 Delmar St.-Sid Vicious (site of non-fatal overdose after last Sex Pistols show)

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  • 6/4/2007 1:27 PM Rob Beland wrote:
    The problem with that area, and San Francisco in general is that they actually pay their homeless people. If you are homeless in San Francisco you have the luxury of living in an area that is basically between 60 and 80 degrees year round...sure it rains half the time but that's only on the west coast not on the bay side where all the action is;
    You get a stipend or whatever you want to call it from the government;
    You have some of the wealthiest business people and tourists to fill your can on a daily basis;
    coin operated toilets on every street corner where you can snort your smack, have a quiet moment with the local street-walker, or just take a nap;

    And all this just a few blocks away from where Barry Bonds hits homeruns every other week when the Giants are at home and where the Niners get their hats handed to them on the grid-iron...

    You gotta love San Fran!!!
    Reply to this
    1. 6/4/2007 3:16 PM Pat Kitano wrote:
      I guess you've been watching a little Bill O'Reilly... yeah, homeless is a big issue and the city's liberal politics doesn't make it go away.... (although Newsom apparently has cut the homeless population in almost 1/2 because he's been focusing on housing ideas)

      When Giuliani took over as New York mayor in the 80's, he did all he could to make the homeless and the windshield washers uncomfortable... they disappeared from Manhattan to the boroughs and made Giuliani a despicable figure until the Manhattan gentry realized how safe and clean their city became. Now he's running for President.

      San Francisco will do the same, the nouveau riche city with its new high end downtown mall wants to sparkle. Newsom is still highly popular - 79% approval rating even after that unsavory sex scandal - and Giuliani's NYC makeover legacy is not lost on Newsom's agenda...

      Reply to this

    2. 6/4/2007 9:43 PM dean wrote:

      You wouldn't be one of the .com refugees who came to SF to conquer and left in a cab back to Timbuck duce ?

      Newsome's care not cash has cleaned up SF considerably. If you want to see the real street panhandlers dream it is Santa Monica. That is where the temps stay 70 degrees year around, the movie set hands out fins like dimes, and nobody will ever utter the words: "I got news for ya my friend."
      Reply to this

  • 6/4/2007 4:34 PM Rob Beland wrote:
    I actually lived in San Fran for about 5 months almost 5 years ago. My wife took a nursing contract at Cal Pacific and since I work in real estate and can do that anywhere, I basically hung out for 5 months while taking a part time job downtown. What a culture shock. We did all the touristy things there are to do and one of the biggest touristy things you can do there is step over the homeless people outside all of the bars and restaurants downtown.
    Reply to this

  • 7/26/2007 8:07 PM Marc wrote:
    Rob, you obviously have no idea what you are talking about, and never really paid attention to any of the city's politics. You are also obviously a total square with a narrow understanding of social space and social economics.

    As for this LA Times article, it's ridiculous, and might I add, totally hyperbolic. It's tabloidal, and a damn shame that a website devoted to providing transparency to real estate would publish it.
    Sure, the neighborhood has these elements, like many neighborhoods in SF you can buy pot on the corner, but there's no "stream of drive by shoppers" It's almost entirely restricted to the west end of Haight Street. And these gutter punks, sure, they are there, they panhandle up and down haight; you don't like it, don't move there.
    Frankly, I'd rather the gutter punks be there than the horror of human beings that have been ruining this city, driving up rent, and pushing the city's service industry, its working class, its minorities, and its creative class across the Bay. San Francisco used to be a diverse and progressive community, a city that was amazing in its togetherness, but thanks to folks like Rob and I'm guessing the folks that run this site, the city I grew up in is vanishing.
    Reply to this
    1. 7/27/2007 5:36 AM Rob Beland wrote:
      Sticks and stones my friend...
      Reply to this

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