A community meeting last week in the Upper Haight may have marked just the beginning of a new wave of anger about the homeless youth who have been a constant sight in the neighborhood for decades. Hoodline called the meeting "lively," noting that a number of merchants and residents spoke out about the vagrancy problem, which is of course nothing new. But the Chronicle delved deeper into the story, discussing how outrage has grown against all the street kids around the Haight following the two murders allegedly committed by three street kids who were recently among them, one of which was committed in nearby Golden Gate Park.
The three accused killers, Morrison Haze Lampley, Lila Scott Alligood, and Sean Michael Angold, were observed hanging around the Haight for a while prior to their alleged robbery and killing spree, "acting so edgy they even spooked the street folks." It's implied that drugs, possibly methamphetamine, were partly to blame for their behavior, and not all the people living on the street in the neighborhood are into such hard drugs.
There is a lot of irony laced into this given the fact that one of the concerned merchants quoted in the Chron piece was herself one of the hippies who made the Haight a magnet for all those who have come there over the years to get stoned, panhandle, and escape their lives back home. Cicely Hansen, the owner of vintage store Decades of Fashion, came to the Haight in 1966 at the age of 17. She remembers everyone back then being a better brand of vagrant, however.
“I’m not trying to group everyone together, but there is a totally different, very negative element of drug dealing that I would like to get rid of. To me, they’re not street kids. They’re vagrants who choose not to be part of the culture. They’re just hanging around hoping for free money. If you were here in the ’60s, you gave something back, even if it was just street art. You weren’t just taking up space and being vile.” ...
“Maybe there will be some casualties with people we will want to have stayed. But we have to keep everyone’s rights in mind. I feel like the rights of the street people are being considered more than the rights of the businesses, and the businesses are what bring people to the street. We have to draw the line. I have to come to work every day and deal with pee at my back door. What about my pursuit of happiness?”
Others at last Tuesday's meeting expressed similar concerns about blatant drug use and what they see as an escalating problem although the Sit/Lie ordinance of four years ago was passed in order to address the problem, specifically in the Haight, and the issue of homeless youth is not unique to this neighborhood anymore. More and more such temporary encampments and panhandlers can be seen in the Castro, the Sunset, and elsewhere.
But, as local homeless outreach worker Christian Calinsky says in the Chron, the recent murders could end up being the excuse the city has been looking for to "purge the streets" of all homeless people. However that might happen.