The producer of the Summer of Love anniversary concert, Boots Hughston and the Council of Light, are attempting to throw an unfenced and free 52nd anniversary show through a ballot initiative. The initiative would appear on the Nov. 6 ballot where San Francisco residents could vote on whether organizers and artist collective known as the Council of Light will be allowed to host an anniversary concert at the Polo Field at Golden Gate Park with all the fees waived.
“We decided to go about it a little different,” Hughston told Amplify. “We realized we could put a petition on the ballot that forces them to give us a permit for this event and then they have to sponsor it. Now the city, instead of charging us for the police and permit fees, we will have the permit fees for free and we’ll be allowed a free, unfenced event.”
The ordinance sent to Amplify reads that a vote for “Yes” would direct the San Francisco “Recreation and Parks Department to permit the Summer of Love Anniversary, a free concert in the Polo Fields of Golden State Park in September of 2019” and adds “the mission is to promote Peace, Love and Compassion. The City of San Francisco shall permit and support this event by providing infrastructure and allow it to be held without obstruction or undue hardship.”
The Council of Light has turned to voters after the San Francisco Recreation and Parks department repeatedly denied their permit in 2017 for a 50th anniversary concert. Hughston originally applied for a permit in April 2016 to throw the Summer of Love concert in June 2017. The permit was officially denied in February 2017 and the Council of Light made various appeals to no avail.
In a denial letter sent to the Council of Light on June 2 and later provided to Amplify as a comment on the situation days later, SF Recreation and Parks said to Hughston “We have spent over a year trying to work you to produce an event. You have refused to comply with conditions reasonably imposed on approval of the permit,” later writing, “the General Manager has reasonable cause to conclude that the event may result in physical injury or substantial damage” to Golden Gate Park.
Hughston accused the department of trying “to corporatize Golden Gate Park” and cited hiked rates for park permits.
“They just hate hippie shows and don’t want anything to do with it,” Hughston told Amplify in June.
The Council of Light has now taken matters to the voters. On Dec. 20, San Francisco resident and former Janis Joplin manager Julius Karpen registered for a petition to qualify for an initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot. Karpen is acting as a representative for Hughston who lives in Mill Valley, which is a few miles outside of San Francisco.
The Council of Light, which produced the previous free Summer of Love Anniversary concert in Golden Gate Park in 2007, is seeking in the ordinance a fee exemption that reads “Notwithstanding any contrary provision of the Municipal Code, all permit, inspection, landscape management and landscape repair fees associated with the Summer of Love Free Concert shall be waived.”
“The ordinance that we drafted allows us to have a free event, no fences, hundreds of crafts, bands all day, and let us politically make our statement which is for peace, compassion, and love,” Hughston said.
Hughston explained that the ordinance was already approved by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and will need 9,000 signatures from city residents by early July to get it placed on the November ballot.
“It should be easy for us. We have 450 people on the Council of Light, so if each person gets 20 signatures each that is 9,000 right there,” Hughston said.
If the Council of Light accumulates the necessary signatures, the measure would need a simple majority “Yes” votes in order to pass. Hughston firmly believes that if the measure makes it to the ballot, it will pass.
“I don’t know anybody who would vote against this event,” Hughston said. “We’ve never had any problems. No one has ever been busted. There are no fights. We have it well controlled because we’re all grown ups now. We are all 50, 60, 70 years old.”
He added “The whole world knows that we have been fighting this fight. Once this fight is over, we’ll have two years of people being aware of our event. By the time we’re actually doing it, I wouldn’t be surprised if we did 100,000-150,000 people.”