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San Francisco denies permit for 'Summer of Love' concert

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/10/2017 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 1960s counterculture movement 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 was expected to draw tens of thousands of people to an all-day, outdoor, free concert in Golden Gate Park.

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" about how security and crowd control would be handled, leaving them with concerns about public safety. It said Hughston has made conflicting statements about the expected attendance and security measures, on-site medical facilities and other matters and then went ahead and publicized the event before securing a permit.

"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, which was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle . It was dated Tuesday and signed by Diane Rea, the manager of permits and reservations at the Recreation and Parks Department.

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 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, accusing the parks department of penalizing him because the permit fees for a free concert are less than a ticketed event.

Sarah Madland, a parks department spokeswoman, called it "patently false" that money played any role in the permit decision.

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

Hughston said he'd already lined up about two dozen performers for the event at the park's Polo Field including the remnants of Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin's Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Santana Blues Band.

"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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