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San Francisco denies permit for 'Summer of Love' concert

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/9/2017 By JOCELYN GECKER, Associated Press
FILE - In this Aug. 18, 1997, file photo, Sixties era rock photographer Grant Jacobs holds images he shot of sixties rock stars in San Francisco. Jacobs is inside the former residence of the rock band "The Grateful Dead" in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. City officials have rejected a permit for a planned free concert intended to mark the 50th anniversary of the famed Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park that had been planned for June 2017. (AP Photo/Dwayne Newton) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Aug. 18, 1997, file photo, Sixties era rock photographer Grant Jacobs holds images he shot of sixties rock stars in San Francisco. Jacobs is inside the former residence of the rock band "The Grateful Dead" in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. City officials have rejected a permit for a planned free concert intended to mark the 50th anniversary of the famed Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park that had been planned for June 2017. (AP Photo/Dwayne Newton)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A war of words has erupted over a concert planned to mark the Summer of Love in San Francisco.

FILE - In this June 21, 1997, file photo, Country Joe McDonald, left, an anti-Vietnam War protester and 1960s rock icon, sings "Carry On," a healing song of peace, during San Francisco's 30th anniversary celebration of the "Summer of Love." City officials have rejected a permit for a planned free concert intended to mark the 50th anniversary of the famed Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park that had been planned for June 2017. (AP Photo/Robin Weiner, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this June 21, 1997, file photo, Country Joe McDonald, left, an anti-Vietnam War protester and 1960s rock icon, sings "Carry On," a healing song of peace, during San Francisco's 30th anniversary celebration of the "Summer of Love." City officials have rejected a permit for a planned free concert intended to mark the 50th anniversary of the famed Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park that had been planned for June 2017. (AP Photo/Robin Weiner, File)

The city at the center of the counterculture movement in the 1960s is gearing up for celebrations that included a "Summer of Love 50th Anniversary" concert that was to be a focal point of citywide cultural events. The June 4 concert in Golden Gate Park was expected to draw tens of thousands of people.

FILE - In this Tuesday, May 20, 1997, file photo, Chet Helms, a concert promoter often called the father of the "Summer of Love" displays a vintage concert poster from the 1960's Summer of Love, in San Francisco. The rights to Summer of Love have been snapped up by the rock promoters Bill Graham Presents. Helms was one of many people who felt the phrase "Summer of Love" should not be allowed to be copyrighted. Helms died in 2005. City officials have rejected a permit for a planned free concert intended to mark the 50th anniversary of the famed Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park that had been planned for June 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Tuesday, May 20, 1997, file photo, Chet Helms, a concert promoter often called the father of the "Summer of Love" displays a vintage concert poster from the 1960's Summer of Love, in San Francisco. The rights to Summer of Love have been snapped up by the rock promoters Bill Graham Presents. Helms was one of many people who felt the phrase "Summer of Love" should not be allowed to be copyrighted. Helms died in 2005. City officials have rejected a permit for a planned free concert intended to mark the 50th anniversary of the famed Summer of Love in Golden Gate Park that had been planned for June 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

But city officials informed event promoter Boots Hughston this week his request for a permit was being denied. In a sharply worded, 3-page letter, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department said that Hughston had made "numerous misrepresentations of material fact" that left them with deep concerns about safety and security measures for the concert.

The letter said Hughston had made conflicting statements about the expected crowd size and security preparations, on-site medical facilities and other matters.

"Given the ongoing uncertainty about basic safety elements of your plan and your unfortunate pattern of deception and misrepresentation about your planning efforts, we cannot put the public at risk and grant a permit for your proposed event," said the letter dated Tuesday and signed by Diane Rea, the department's manager of permits and reservations. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported the permit denial.

Hughston called the letter a "character assassination," saying he has a flawless record as a concert promoter and had organized events at Golden Gate Park and elsewhere since the 1970s without any problems.

He said the parks and recreation department had given him permission 2 weeks ago to advertise the event but was now searching for ways to back out and cancel the event and had fabricated what they called misrepresentations.

"They're going after my credibility, saying I lied to them which is totally untrue," Hughston said in a telephone interview.

He plans to file an appeal against the permit denial this week and said he still hopes the event can take place.

He said he'd already lined up about two dozen performers for the concert including the remnants of Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin's Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Santana Blues Band. The free concert was scheduled to take place in the Polo Field at Golden Gate Park.

"The Summer of Love all started in the Polo Field in San Francisco. This event celebrates that whole movement," Hughston said. "To cancel this event is like slapping San Francisco in the face, and the rest of the world for that matter."

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