In a unanimous vote yesterday, the SF Recreation and Park Commission denied promoter Boots Hughston's appeal of an earlier decision not to grant a permit for a June 4th concert on the Polo Field in Golden Gate Park. Hughston, a real estate flipper who lives in Mill Valley and has holdings in San Francisco and Portland, said he planned to pay $200,000 in city expenses and had budgeted another $500,000 for the event, a commemoration of the Human Be-In and the 1967 Summer of Love on its 50th anniversary. Initially, a Rec and Park representative told Hughston he made "numerous representations about your preparedness for this event which have turned out to be untrue," including advertising a smaller crowd size on his application than on his press materials.
Although a number of Summer of Love events are planned, “If we didn’t have this festival, this is like having the Super Bowl without the game,” Cicely Hansen, a Haight Street shop owner, told the Examiner. But the decision of the Commission wasn't swayed by Hansen or the many others who arrived with Hughston at City Hall, a group of "senior citizens wearing tie-dye" according to the Ex.
Richmond Station Capt. Paul Yep was one official who spoke up against the event, citing safety concerns. Dana Ketchum, the Rec and Park department's director of permit and property management criticized the lack of security, police, and medical planning involved. "We lower the standards for this one, we have to lower the standards for everybody," she said, explaining that without a clear crowd estimate the department wouldn't know how many officers to have at the event.
“The whole thing about the 50th anniversary is that we are marking our generation and what our generation accomplished,” Hughston said at the appeals meeting according to the Guardian. “We impeached presidents. We started all these movements: the environmental movement, the free speech movement, the feminist movement.”
Per the Chronicle, Hughston was encouraged to file a new application, partnering with another promoter. In the past, he's arranged similar events, like a 40th Summer of Love Anniversary concert in the park a decade ago. One SFist commenter, Taurussf, claimed that they'd "worked a couple of Boots' shows. We got our equipment delivered on time, and we got paid. You can't say a more positive thing about a promoter."
But while Hughston claims to have been in talks with the likes of Eric Clapton for the event and to have booked acts including Eric Burdon and War and the original Santana Blues Bands Rhythm section, that didn't check out according to the Chronicle. A conga drummer with the original Santana band called the Chronicle to say “this is the first I’ve heard" of the event, and Marianna Burdon, Burdon's wife and manager implied in a Facebook post that Hughston was misrepresenting her husband's involvement. “This world is full of deluded characters spreading false information for their own opportunistic purposes. ... Eric was never confirmed, as I declined the appearance immediately and the fact is, War was never even mentioned in our discussion.”
Hughston says he will file another application. "Hell yeah, I’m ready to do it,” he told the Ex, but apparently in a different mood, he told the Chronicle that "We’ve given them everything already, but I’m willing to do it again... but I don’t see what difference that will make.”
Judging by some of the commissioners receptive remarks, it could make plenty of difference. “The Summer of Love means a lot to this city,” the Ex quotes one commissioner, Gloria Bonilla. “I would really love to see this happen in some way, it may not be in the form that is proposed but if it could happen, I would be really happy.” Bonilla herself recalled running in hippie circles during the late '60s, but voted with the rest of the commission in agreement that there was no need to appeal the staff's previous decision.