Tag Archives: Haight Street

Big Macs and LSD on Haight Street

The city is threatening a lawsuit against McDonalds over consistent drug deals at its Haight Street location.

Prefer a side of LSD with your big mac? Get it while it lasts.

The San Francisco city attorney, Tuesday, filed an official complaint threatening a lawsuit against McDonalds due to incessant drug sales and 911 calls at the Haight Street location.

In the past seven months, there were 11 instances in which San Francisco Police arrested individuals for drug sales or possession, according City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s letter to Steve Easterbrook, CEO of McDonalds corporation.

In roughly the last year, police received 641 calls regarding issues at the Haight Street location, detailing numerous fights, instances of public alcohol consumption, two dog attacks, and “at least eight auto burglaries.”

In the pre-litigation, plaintiffs requested that the location shut down for one year and fine all potential defendants $25,000 in order to bar them from “maintaining a nuisance at the property.” Furthermore, McDonalds will be unable to operate on the property if the issues raised by Herrera’s office continue.

The letter goes on to state, “In the last six months the police have recovered more than 100 doses of LSD, over two pounds of marijuana, 88.5 grams of psilocybin (psychedelic mushrooms), more than half of a pound of marijuana edibles, and hashish from drug dealers selling their products on your Property.”

But is McDonalds actually to blame?

The official complaint states that the defendants “permit” the use of the property for the “sale, storage and possession of controlled substances,” and alleges “Mcdonald’s has a reputation in the community and among the San Francisco Police Department as a location where people come to buy, sell, and use illegal narcotics.”

According to Deputy City Attorney Megan Cesare-Eastman, the city is asking McDonalds to employ a security guard and improve lighting in the area.

“We firmly believe that, in its current condition, your Property threatens the health and safety of the surrounding neighborhood,” writes Herrera.

The complaint wedged against McDonalds is based under the California Health and Safety Code, which states, “every building or place used for the purpose of unlawfully selling, serving, storing, keeping, manufacturing or giving away any controlled substance… and every building or place wherein or upon which those acts take place, is a nuisance which shall be enjoined.”

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.

Haight for the Holidays

Words & Photos: Babak Haghighi

Money. Power. Free beer. These are the things that drive the human life force, the latter of which was in no short supply at the Lower Haight Holiday Art Walk. “Happy Holidays” is damn right.

Spirits were high, both in terms of mood and alcohol, at this makeshift block party. Free beer, free wine, free live music, free live art, and free good times. The handful of blocks that comprise the Lower Haight turned into the ultimate neighborhood holiday party on the first Friday of December. Shops, restaurants, and bars all had special events to celebrate the holiday season. Many boutiques invited people in for complimentary drinks, as long as they also enjoyed live DJs and local art. Idle Hand, a tattoo parlor, offered “get-what-you-get” tattoos for $60. Burger shops gave patrons free munchies. Every local business seemed to have something special going on. Some businesses took their parties to the streets with live music and art shows. Each store threw its own party, but it brought the neighborhood together in a very special way.

D-Structure, a clothing boutique and art gallery, is one of the hot spots of the Art Walk. The place is packed. DJ Oli spins vinyl upstairs while guests enjoy the showcase of new local art downstairs while sipping on free booze. Others bring their own booze. It’s like a house party, only cooler. D-Structure owner Devon Chulick mingles with the crowd as he enjoys his own party, perhaps the most popular on the block. Next door, a folk band plays some tunes on the sidewalk in front of their apartment. The crowd dances accordingly.

San Francisco State University student Wesley Deimling arrives at Lower Haight. This night isn’t formal by any means, but it’s one hell of an introduction to one of San Francisco’s hippest neighborhoods. Deimling grabs a six-pack from the local grocer and hits the streets.

“The only thing I didn’t like about the event is that I didn’t show up earlier,” says Deimling.

Deimling arrived at Lower Haight at around 10 p.m., towards the end of the Art Walk, which started at 6 p.m. Although things were supposedly “dying down,” the party was still in full effect. Shops stayed open late and there were plenty of after parties.

“The vibe felt a lot like a music festival,” says Deimling, “except a lot less expensive and in a cooler location. Each shop was its own stage, and each piece of art was its own song.”

Various shops’ walls were covered with local art of all styles, from oil paintings to stencil art to photographs, and everything in between. In all of these shops and on the street, everyone seems to have beverages in their hands and smiles on their faces.

Beer in hand, Deimling walks into P-Kok. On a regular day, P-Kok is a quirky fashion boutique. On this night, it’s a dark-room art show turned dance party. To the left of the entrance, a plastic table holds an abundance of beer, wine, and liquor for all to enjoy in typical house party fashion. A DJ spins her favorite beats in the back while people dance their feet off in the middle. Nearby, local artist John Benko puts finishing touches on a fresh painting that Deimling can only describe as a “panda on acid.” Benko insists it’s a polar bear. His art is displayed all over P-Kok’s walls. Impressed by Benko’s art, a man asks him to paint his face, to which Benko kindly agrees, as he did to many others earlier. “Do you accept tips?” the man asks. “Yeah sure,” laughs Benko. “I’d be glad to take your money,” he says as he pockets a lone dollar bill.

Nearby, a Seattle Seahawks fan does the unthinkable and shows his face in division rival 49ers territory. This sparks a heated but friendly debate between him and a Niner-loyal local. They flash each other with their team’s respective swag before realizing that they were both here for the same reason—to have a good time.

“There was a real sense of togetherness that this city doesn’t seem to ease up on,” says Deimling about the event. “It was easy to forget that we were walking along a busy San Francisco street and not some sort of eccentric museum grand opening.”

A few doors down, Nickies bar and restaurant holds the official Lower Haight Holiday Art Walk after-party, but it pales in comparison to the party at P-Kok. Regardless of the venue, the Art Walk provides good vibes to anybody looking for them.

Lower Haight holds similar events throughout the year, but the standouts are the Summer Art Walk and the Holiday Art Walk. These cherished traditions shouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

“There’s nothing better than free drinks,” says Deimling. “Except when accompanied with free music, great people, and amazing art.”

It’s hard to imagine a better way to celebrate the holidays.