For most fast-food aficionados, McDonald's $1 menu items may seem like little more than a good deal on the road to a full stomach.
But in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, a feud over cheap food has escalated into a biting debate on microeconomics and the city's homeless problem.
Natalie Gonzales, a McDonald's franchise owner in the neighborhood, recently decided to discontinue the $1 menu at her restaurant and start charging an extra 50 cents for each of the items, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Such price hikes might be met by a grumble and a shrug elsewhere, but in bohemian Haight-Ashbury, street people are up in arms, saying they rely on the dollar deals to survive.
The homeless interviewed by the Chronicle suggested it was part of a larger program of unfriendly policies in the city, whose mayor, Gavin Newsom, is pushing an anti-loitering ballot measure.
Not so, says Gonzales.
"The speculation as to why I no longer offer menu items for $1 in this location is absolutely false," she said in a statement to the Chronicle that was vetted by the McDonald's corporate office. "This was a business decision based on a number of contributing factors. And while these items are no longer available at $1, they are still available at what I believe to be a good, everyday value."