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Summer of Love supporters begin ballot process that may force SF to allow anniversary concert

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After repeated unsuccessful attempts to gain a permit from Rec and Park to host a Summer of Love 50th anniversary concert, supporters are hoping to take the issue to San Francisco voters. (Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez/S.F. Examiner)

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The third time may be the charm for the long-blocked Summer of Love 50th anniversary concert.

At least, that’s the hope of local music producer Boots Hughston, who applied with the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department to host the concert earlier this year, only to be repeatedly denied.

On Wednesday morning, however, he and a group called the Council of Light began the ballot initiative process to put the issue to the voters. The group filed a request for title and summary from the City Attorney’s Office, kicking off the signature gathering process.

The initiative would ask voters in November 2018 to say “yes” to compel the Board of Supervisors to direct Rec and Park to grant the permit for a Summer of Love concert, and waive any related fees.

That concert would take place in September 2019 — a full two years after the Summer of Love’s 50th anniversary.

Next, Boots and the concert’s supporters must seek 9,485 signatures to place the issue on the ballot, according to the Department of Elections.

The group, particularly Boots, is confident they can meet the signature threshold.

“File an initiative, change the world,” Boots said.

The Summer of Love attracted free souls far and wide across the U.S. in 1967, and heralded San Francisco’s hippie movement, which centered in the Haight-Ashbury.

With that ethos in mind, Boots told me, “The reason why [Summer of Love] is important is the world was looking to San Francisco to see change.”

Mona Lisa Wallace, an advocate with the Council of Light, was outraged The City denied permits to Boots and others for the Summer of Love 50th anniversary concert.

“For the companies like Outside Lands to charge hundreds of dollars is a different situation from allowing a permit for the community,” she said.

Rec and Park denied Boots’ permit on the grounds that he had not filed a security plan, or a site plan that passed muster — his blueprint of the concert was a doodle scrawled on a piece of paper, a far-cry from the detailed plans required by the department.

Connie Chan, a spokesperson for Rec and Park, said they had not yet seen the ballot language, so the department would not speak to its legality.

“The department denied Boots Hughston a permit because his event plan did not meet the safety standards required to keep concert-goers and performers safe,” Chan said in a statement. “We stand by this decision.”

Boots and the Council of Light filed shortly after beloved local beatnik Diamond Dave Whitaker led 20 followers into a round of chanting “hom” in a circle at the Department of Elections.

Despite the peaceful vibes, the group faced a hurdle in filing to seek signatures. Boots is not registered to vote in San Francisco, making it illegal for him to be the ballot proponent.

Instead, Julius Karpen, who in the 1960s managed the famous band Big Brother and the Holding Company, offered his signature as ballot initiative proponent.

The group was aided in their filing by mayoral-hopeful Angela Alioto, who formerly sat on the Board of Supervisors.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years,” Alioto said, who told me previously she flocked to Haight Street as a teenager.

To which someone in the crowd immediately answered, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that the Recreation and Park had not seen the ballot language at the time of this reporting.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at joe@sfexaminer.com, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.

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