Sorta makes me glad I have been conservative as far back as I can remember. I got it right first time. Some excerpts below:
From his second-floor apartment at the counterculture crossing of Haight and Ashbury streets, Arthur Evans watches a new generation of wayward youth invade his free-spirited neighborhood. The former flower child was among the legions of idealistic wanderers who migrated here during the Vietnam War to "tune in, turn on and drop out." But Evans, who has lived at the same address for 34 years, says he has never seen anything like this crowd, who use his flower bed as a bathroom and sell pot outside his window.
They're known as gutter punks, these homeless kids with dirty dreadlocks and nose rings, lime-green mohawks and orange spray-painted faces, who panhandle with cardboard signs that riff on their lifestyles. "Please Help Us Get Un-Sober," one reads. Another: "Please Give Us Weed, Beer or Money." Sometimes aggressive, they block sidewalks as they strum guitars or bang on bongos. Gangs of them skateboard down the middle of Haight Street. Some throw used hypodermic needles into a nearby pond they call Hep-C Lake.
Evans, 64, says they should get help, clean up or go home. "I used to be a hippie. I wore beads and grew my hair long," he said. "But my generation had something these kids do not: a standard of civilized behavior."....
But a lot of ex-hippies-turned-homeowners are weary of the youthful intruders. They want the Haight to adopt a more mature demeanor, just as they have. Outreach services, they say, only draw more young people to the area. Many suggest sending the homeless to centers in other areas, including the inner-city Tenderloin district. "I'm sick of stepping over gangs of kids, only to be told 'Die, yuppie!' A lot of us were flower children, but we grew up," said Robert Shadoian, 58, a retired family therapist. "There are responsibilities in this world you have to meet. You can't be drugged out 24/7 and expect the world to take care of you." ...
Recently, the stance against the homeless has hardened. Residents last year resurrected the Haight Ashbury Improvement Assn. to push the city to crack down on loitering. They have started a "court watch" program to monitor cases and push judges to sentence offenders to community service and order them into treatment.
Police have also cracked down. The department has sent teens home on its own dime and maintains two full-time outreach officers to coax youths into seeking help. But now officers ticket for "quality of life" offenses, including illegal camping and drinking in public.
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