SF Haight-Ashbury business owners say construction will disrupt celebration

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KGO) -- If you live or work in San Francisco, you can't help but notice all the street construction going on. But one neighborhood says it's more than just an inconvenience. It's killing business right as they're preparing to welcome visitors from around the world.

"When you think of San Francisco, you think of the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and a hippie on the corner of Haight and Ashbury," said shop owner Sunshine Powers. Powers owns two businesses on Haight Street and hopes to see a surge during what will be a major milestone.

It's the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, the 1967 phenomenon that brought crowds of young people into the city and put the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood on the global map.

But now as they gear up to welcome the thousands who will come to celebrate, businesses are dealing with construction.

"It's about sewer work and water work and it's about paving. It's about improvements to the neighborhood," San Francisco Public Works spokesperson Rachel Gordon said.

Some merchants say the city had promised a moratorium on all of this until next year, but Public Works say the promised delay was for just one project, and not the one that began last week.

"I do have a lot of people complaining, customers, mostly tourists coming in and saying it's impossible to find parking," one business owner said.

"It hasn't affected us but it would not hurt if it wasn't here," one tourist said.

The city says it would cost taxpayers too much to delay the work. "We said we'll have it done by May 20th. We're hopeful that we're going to get it done before then but we have to keep going with the construction. You can't just stop in the middle of it," Gordon said,

Powers insists the city is going back on its word and says with the Summer of Love anniversary coming up, tearing up the street is disrespectful. "The Haight is not about road construction, it's about peace, love, kindness and rainbows and magic," she said.

And she's begun a petition drive to try to stop it.
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