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San Francisco values: Protect bong shops & ban chain stores

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POSTED July 4, 2009 2:19 a.m.
Hey man.

The land of hippies has gone for government controls to protect head shops from competition.

No kidding.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors last week unanimously passed a moratorium on the opening of new tobacco paraphernalia establishments for three years on Haight Street in the Haight-Asbury neighborhood immortalized by the “Summer of Love.”

Given there are three dozen plus head shops already on Haight Street selling everything from bongs to bubblers, this obviously isn’t about catering to the growing family-orientation of the neighborhood nor is it about law and order. No, this is about seeking government protection to keep prices up.

You got it. The neighborhood that thumbed its nose at the military establishment and capitalism sought and got government protection against what they feared was an onslaught of low-cost head shops that could drive them out of business. Several have already closed unable – or unwilling – to compete on prices.

The problems are two new stores the competitors are describing as the “Wal-Mart of head shops” that offer deep discounts and are packed from floor to ceiling with bongs.

One competitor said such stores are giving the wrong impression of Haight-Asbury to tourists as it is displacing the traditional head shops.

Just so you understand, the very people who are part of the movement to make a lot of drugs legal that currently aren’t such, as pot, by contending it is none of the government’s business are openly advocating for that same government to protect them against competition or – if you prefer – help them prop up prices by limiting the stores that can sell bongs.

San Francisco has a reputation for chasing out chain stores on the premise of protecting neighborhood character. The “Wal-Marts of bongs” that started the outrage – Goodfellas as well as Puff Puff Pass – aren’t exactly found in malls. They are simply storefront shops that have gone gaga over bongs and priced them to move.

Hypocrisy, of course, is rich in San Francisco.

While they rally against corporations and other agents that go against so-called “San Francisco values” that Mayor Gavin Newsom likes to brag about, many of those that man the brigades in The City are garden variety hypocrites. It’s true they speak of lofty ideals such as saving the Sierra, but when push comes to shove San Franciscans are flushing their toilets with water trapped by destroying the Hetch Hetchy Valley – an act that broke the heart of Sierra Club founder John Muir who is one of the icons of The City.

San Francisco over the years has rallied against Los Angeles for its excesses including destroying Owens Lake and damaging Mono Lake – two fragile eco-systems – while they forget the fact they destroyed the Hetch Hetchy Valley to fuel San Francisco’s growth.

Los Angeles essentially bought up the land that drained into Owens Lake that over 50 years ago went from a teeming lake to dust bowl once the water was diverted to L.A. San Francisco did it the politically correct way by getting Congress to give them a sweetheart deal that requires them to pay pennies on the dollar of what the federal government would charge anyone else.

Of course, when water is heavily subsidized by the federal government for large farms to raise food that is an act against man whereas San Francisco getting an extreme price break is proper.

Again, it is a classic San Francisco maneuver. Take the high road verbally and force others to follow it but when San Francisco’s own interests are at stake it becomes situational ethics.

Protecting bong sales in the Haight while driving away chain stores that can bring lower priced products to that city’s ever shrinking working class plus being hypocrites about water supplies says a lot about “San Francisco values.”
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