As sure as the sun rises every Sunday and Monday morning, the sun will greet a completely trashed Dolores Park landscape following any warm weekend afternoon. Park revelers have been leaving hundreds of pounds of empty glass bottles, pizza boxes, used paper and plastic products and of course the occasional syringe in a recurring, pretty-much-every-weekend development that Rec and Parks calls “appalling”.
In an attempt to appeal to the appalled demographic, and to hopefully bag the trashy habits of Dolores Park partiers, Supervisor Jeff Sheehy (whose District 8 includes the park) announced in a press release a proposal to increase the fine for littering in Dolores Park to $1,000. The $1,000 fine, which is currently just a $192 fine, would apply only to Dolores Park, but the proposal’s ban on glass products would apply to all city parks.
“If it costs you money to leave your trash in the park, you won’t do it,” Sheehy told the Chronicle. “There are consequences to every action. I have a 12-year-old daughter. If there were no consequences for her, then she would do whatever she wants. This behavior has to change. It’s a terrible situation.”
While that pontificating sure makes sense on a schoolmarmy-y level, the proposal seems to ignore a fundamental problem in the current system no one is ever cited for littering. It doesn’t matter whether the fine is $191 or $1,000 if litterers never receive a citation. While the park’s trash problem has been ongoing for years, the Chronicle notes that “not a single person has been has been ticketed for littering in Dolores Park this year.”
Currently, park rangers issue littering citations (or never issue them, as the case appears more to be). These citations are enforced or never enforced by District Attorney Gascón’s office, who don’t feel they have the resources to chase down each petty citation. “Unless someone is repeatedly ticketed for littering, these citations result in infractions and fines rather than misdemeanor prosecutions,” DA spokesperson Max Szabo told the Chronicle. “We care deeply about the environment, but we don’t think the public wants a jury empaneled every time someone fails to toss a bag of potato chips.”
Since Dolores Park’s renovation, the landfill and recycling capacity for the park has raised to 56,000 gallons per week, from only 35,000 gallons per week prior to the renovation. Additionally, the Love Dolores Campaign has been established to steward the park, though a Rec and Parks employee has referred to that campaign as “obviously useless”.
As KRON 4 reports, Sheehy's proposed legislation will go before the Board of Supes' Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee in June.