Around 15,000 people are expected to flood Golden Gate Park Wednesday to observe the marijuana-focused "holiday" of April 20th. But while the event is neither permitted nor sanctioned by any San Francisco administrative body, that doesn't mean there aren't rules city officials promise that they'll be enforcing at the pot party. Want to know how to enjoy the shindig without getting hassled by The Man? Have to pass through the event area and want to avoid a different kind of hassle? Then read on.
According to District 5 Supervisor London Breed, who once threatened to shut the whole party down, "some 4/20 festivities in the past have led to horrific traffic, overwhelmed residential streets, public urination, damage to public and private property, and strained police, Muni and park resources." Hence a formal plan from city agencies including SFPD, Rec and Parks, the SFMTA and SF's Probation Department.
Breed says that 4/20 celebrants can expect to see the following:
Increased Police and Juvenile Probation Officer Presence: There will be uniformed and plain clothes officers surrounding Golden Gate Park and surrounding neighborhoods. Park Rangers will also be in full force, ensuring safety within the park.
Traffic Control Officers and Parking Control Officers: There will be Parking Control Officers ticketing and towing vehicles that are illegally parked in residential and commercial corridors (i.e. blocking driveways) and Traffic Control Officers enforcing street closures and facilitating the flow of traffic.
Zero Tolerance for Unpermitted Booths and Concessions: Commercial, unpermitted concessions will not be allowed in Golden Gate Park or surrounding public spaces.
Litter abatement and bathroom facilities: DPW will temporarily install portable bathroom facilities on Waller & Stanyan for public use. Recreation and Parks will put out temporary trash, recycling and compost receptacles throughout the park. Recreation and Parks staff and volunteers will do a sweep of the park in the late afternoon and the following morning. Neighborhood organizations like Taking it to the Streets have also signed to do clean up the following day.
Litter is a major concern at the event, as according to Breed, on past 4/20s "Recreation and Park staff and volunteers have had to laboriously collect over 10,000 pounds of litter left in the parks." And even those labors were imperfect, as Breed said at Monday's press conference announcing SF's 4/20/16 containment plan that "When I went last year, things looked clean, but there were thousands of little cigarette butts shoved into the grass."
"Respect this park," Rec and Parks head Phil Ginsburg said at the presser. "Keep it clean, safe and joyous. That's what parks are for."
And of course, there's crime. At Monday's press event, Park Police Station Captain John Sanford emphasized that police would act “'swiftly' if they detect illegal activity or disruptive behavior," the Ex reports. Last year, one celebrant was arrested after hitting a park ranger over the head with a bottle, and others were busted for the "selling of narcotics, underage drinking and smoking, and physical altercations." (And, uh, don't bring your kid!)
In fact, reports CBS 5, police are out nabbing people right now in an effort "to get stay-away orders for many drug dealers, a large percentage of whom travel in from outside San Francisco."
“With the number of people coming into the area, the event excites many drug dealers, and we’re quite aware of that,” Sanford told CBS 5.
Dealers aren't Park Station's only target, as area homeless folks are also getting scrutiny this week. Officers are "deployed to 'interrupt' campsites around the neighborhood and park, and kick people out of doorways they were sleeping in. In addition, they looked for vehicles that people might be living inside, citing the individuals and towing their vehicles," Hoodline reports.
As with any event that is expected to attract a Breed-estimated 15,000, there are also traffic issues to consider. That's why the SFMTA will be closing the following streets as of 10 a.m. Wednesday to everyone but Muni:
- Haight, Page and Waller Streets between Masonic and Stanyan Streets
- Stanyan Street between Frederick and Oak Streets
- Shrader Street between Beulah and Waller Streets
- Oak and Waller Streets at Ashbury, Clayton, Shrader, Cole and Belvedere Streets
- Frederick Street at Shrader Street
- Beulah Street at Shrader and Cole Street
"Personnel from SFPD may decide additional street closures as crowds grow for public safety," Breed says, so be prepared for additional closures at cop whim. In addition, as of 3 p.m. Wednesday even Muni will be disrupted in the area, so if you ride the N Judah, NX N Express, 6 Parnassus, 7 Haight/Noriega, 7R Haight/Noriega Rapid, 33 Ashbury/18th, 37 Corbett, or 43 Masonic brace for delays.
"To be clear," Breed says, "there is no sponsor for '4/20', and therefore no fiscal organizer to hold accountable" for the estimated $80,000 to $100,000 the event costs San Francisco every year.
"But as a City who welcomes visitors from all over the world, we need to do everything possible to ensure a safe, peaceful April 20th for both visitors and residents," Breed says.
"Our goal is to ensure public safety, and as such, there will be no tolerance for visitors who are using “4/20” as an excuse to damage our parks and neighborhoods."
If you see a crime in progress during 4/20, please call 911. If you want to report a lesser offense like "public urination or defecation, graffiti, drunken or threatening behavior, unleashed dogs, exceptional noise, and unusual littering or trash raiding," please call one of Park Station's two 4/20-dedicated hotlines, at (415) 242-3060 or (415) 242-3061.