Why I Hate Haight Street

Last Friday, after ripping a hole in the last pair of pants I owned that was not already riddled with them, I decided to go to American Apparel to buy new ones. There are only three American Apparels in San Francisco, and two are in my least favorite places to be: downtown and the Marina. With my dislike of those neighborhoods providing me no other choice, I embarked on a trip to the American Apparel in the one part of the city I thought did not hate, Haight Street.
 My trip concluded within an hour, but as I got back on the 33-Stanyan to head home, too-expensive jeans in hand, I was in the foulest of moods. Not because I had just dropped serious coin on a garment I will be replacing in about four months, and not because I was offended by the smell of the bus, which I can only describe as a mix of bacon and urine.

Then it dawned upon me: I hate Haight Street. Not Haight as a whole, the street is too long and the bars and eateries in lower Haight too awesome, but the neighborhood often referred to as Haight-Ashbury or upper Haight sucks.
The street where I held the first of many jobs in San Francisco, the street where I bought my first bong, the street where I went to that really fun party that one time. I fucking hate that street. And if you do not already, maybe you will too after reading this.

Tourists. Everywhere.

I do not even understand why Haight Street is so big with tourists. There has not been anything special about Haight Ashbury for about 50 years now, yet every time I go there the streets are clogged with huge double-decker tour buses and slow moving tourists impeding the mobility of people that have somewhere to be. Unless you are into taking photos of the homeless youth that congregate in front of the Whole Foods on Stanyan, photo opportunities are virtually non-existent. Hell, the iconic Haight-Ashbury street signs are too high up to even really be visible. Thankfully the Ben and Jerry’s that sits on the corner of Haight and Ashbury has their own goofy looking, oversized street signs in the doorway so you can take pictures in front of those while their ice cream scoopers photobomb your vacation photos.

Overpriced everything.

Upper Haight is the land of overpriced wares. Looking for cheap clothes? Good luck. I saw a pair of overalls at one store being sold for $98. There is a Goodwill in the neighborhood, but I challenge you to find any other store in which the clothes are both reasonably priced and in the realm of fashionable.

If you are hungry and do not want to spend your life’s savings trying to eat, you pretty much only have the option of going to the McDonalds on Haight and Stanyan; that is if you can make it past the panhandlers and their pack of unleashed dogs, dealers offering you pretty much any drug you could ever think of, and wanna-be rappers trying to get you to purchase their mix tapes that have all claimed the steps to the McDonalds as their own. I was really excited when Burger Urge opened on the corner of Haight and Clayton because I thought it would be a cheap alternative to McDonalds, but I was so, so wrong. My excitement quickly faded when I found out that a cheeseburger, fries and a drink at Burger Urge will cost you a smooth $15.00. 

 Street Punx
 Being a “traveler” living on Haight Street seems like it would be really fun, aside from the whole not having a roof over your head thing. You get to hang out with your friends all day, harass passersby for money and cigarette butts, drink, and participate in general merrymaking. This is not a blanket request for the travelers on Haight Street to get a job or anything, if you do not want one or do not need one that is your thing. Just leave me alone and do not ask me for my hard earned pennies (which are not plentiful) or if I want to enjoy a “warm beer and a cold sleeping bag,” with you. Because I do not.

Its conflicting identities

So, am I supposed to regard upper Haight as a last bastion of the famous Summer of Love or a hip retail district? Because I cannot tell. In-between the expensive boutiques and street-wear stores, murals to people like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and shops that literally sell nothing besides tie-dye t-shirts, it is easy for the theme of Haight Street to get confusing.
 But maybe that is the point, in 2014 we are all about being nostalgic, and maybe there is a niche market for people who want to buy a tie-dye shirt, pay homage to Jerry Garcia by eating an ice cream flavor named after him, buy weed off of a stranger, then sit down and enjoy a $15.00 hamburger. I am just not that person. And I guess I will be going to the Marina to buy pants from now on.

2 thoughts on “Why I Hate Haight Street”

  1. I live in the upper Haight, and have been in the neighborhood since the 1990s.

    This article is an accurate description of the current situation in the stretch of Haight between Stanyan and Masonic.

    This was designed to be a residential neighborhood.

    Haight Street used to be pleasant to live in. In the past ten years, it has become less
    livable.

    * The affordable 24 hour Cala Supermarket closed. It has been replaced by
    Whole Foods. Haight Natural Produce is a nice store, but it and Whole Foods are priced for
    tourists and the affluent. To shop for affordable produce and other foodstuffs, I must now
    go to the Mission and to the Outer Sunset.

    * Haight Street is too narrow for the amount of vehicle traffic it bears. The tour buses
    became a nuisance starting about 6 years ago.

    * Too many people ride bicycles and skateboards on the sidewalk. This is bad news
    for anyone who is hearing or mobility impaired.

    * Big increase in the number of tourists sauntering arse to arse blocking the entire street.

    * Big increase in the number of people smoking tobacco. This, plus the huge number of
    people who arrive in the Haight to smoke weed generate a nasty amount of
    second hand smoke. Vehicle exhaust at peak hours makes this even worse.

    * Traveler kids with dogs in very large numbers. Too often they block the sidewalk. I find’
    myself getting fed up with the cute or snarky patter for money. What I dislike even more
    are importunements to help them buy food for their dogs. If you cannot pay for care of
    an animal, do not bring an animal into your life.

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