Wednesday is the 20th day of April, in the year of widespread cannabis use. Consuming America's favorite illicit drug is less and less a rebellious act these days, which means more and more people — up to 15,000, by the latest unofficial count from official city sources — descend on Hippie Hill on 420 every year to share a quiet, mellow smoke with thousands of strangers.
The city has in the past flirted with cracking down on 420, possibly San Francisco's largest unpermitted and therefore unregulated event, but has instead decided to just close down streets and (loosely, selectively) enforce Golden Gate Park rules.
Good news: there will be public toilets and places to put some of the 10,000 pounds of trash city officials say 420-goers dump on the grass every year. Bad news: it will be an absolute nightmare trying to navigate the area, including for sober motorists trying to make it home on Kezar Drive through the park.
[jump] Specifically, Board of Supervisors President London Breed, who has represented the area since 2013, has every year rolled out some kind of public response to deal with the annual onslaught of stoned people.
Here's what you need to know:
- There will be cops. Many, many cops, in uniform and in plainclothes, “surrounding Golden Gate Park and surrounding neighborhoods,” according to Breed. There will be juvenile probation officers aplenty as well as SFPD and Park Patrol. They won't be enforcing cannabis laws or Golden Gate Park's ban on smoking, of course — so why are they there?
- You aren't supposed to sell anything or have a booth. The one thing for which there will be “zero tolerance,” according to the city, is unpermitted concessions or booths. So as fire as your brand may be, you can't do much Hempcon-like promoting unless you are willing to give Recreation and Park some money.
- There will be bathrooms and trash cans. Imagine that, a proper place to put your bodily and corporeal waste. Use them, please.
- It will be very hard to drive in the area. It's going to be a literal nightmare for anyone driving through the area all day long, which means anyone who lives in the Richmond or Sunset and uses a car. Check this, from the SFMTA, with one line emphasized by us:
Street Closures & Muni re-routes:
San Francisco Police Department will enforce the following street closures beginning at 10 a.m.:
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
During the time of street closures, no traffic will be allowed with an exception of Muni buses. Personnel from SFPD may decide additional street closures as crowds grow for public safety.
Beginning at approximately 3 p.m., the following Muni lines and routes will be affected:
N Judah, NX N Express, 6 Parnassus, 7 Haight/Noriega, 7R Haight/Noriega Rapid, 33 Ashbury/18th, 37 Corbett, 43 Masonic
According to SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose, the SFPD could also decide to close major east-west routes like Kezar Drive and Frederick Street if the situation warrants it. This may put a damper on rap and weed impresario Berner's plans to bus concert goers from Hippie Hill to his show with Cypress Hill on 4/20, but so it goes.