Though California’s marijuana legalization will make Friday’s 4/20 celebration historic, city leaders are treating it as the usual giant mess that needs taming — which fellow participants can benefit from.
While thousands party in a cloud of smoke each year, city departments shell out to reduce traffic, fights and clean up thousands of pounds of leftover trash in a historically unsupervised event. It’s been a long battle, but as the giant cloud of smoke appears to be here to stay, city officials have reluctantly stepped up to the task.
Board of Supervisors President London Breed — whose district includes part of Golden Gate Park — emphasizes that it’s still not a city-approved event but that they are laying down some rules and contracting some help to reduce any misery for all involved. Roads will close, officers will roam the area, buses will be rerouted, parking and Muni fares will be enforced and alcohol won’t be allowed.
“Unfortunately, past 4/20 festivities have led to horrific traffic, overwhelmed residential streets, public urination, damage to public and private property, and strained police, Muni and park resources,” Breed said in a statement. “But with this new partnership and a well-oiled plan among city agencies, we hope this year will be cleaner and safer for all.”
Here’s what to look out for:
Before you get there, city departments want you to know that drugs for sale, unauthorized music, concessions without permits and alcohol aren’t technically allowed. Neither are weapons, glass (that means bongs and pipes), tents, tables, canopies, cooking equipment, drones, wagons or barbeques, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Plus, a mile-long chain fence already went up on Wednesday to surround the area and will come down on Saturday. Underage kids will find it hard to find entry through the streets surrounding Hippie Hill. Uniformed and plainclothes officers, along with park rangers and 60 private security guards will be in the surrounding area.
The fencing means picnic parties headed to Robin Williams Meadow, Little Rec Field, Koret Playground & Carousel, Sharon Art Studio, Lawn Bowling Club and the tennis courts will also have trouble getting in.
Riders of 7-Haight, 33-Ashbury, 37-Corbett, and 43-Masonic should count on being rerouted. But they should still make sure to pay because SFMTA fare inspectors are expected in the area. Muni is also looking to focus on keeping N-Judah going to reduce congestion.
Drivers should also be on their best behavior when parking since enforcement officers will roam each intersection from Carl and Cole streets to 9th Avenue and Irving. But thanks to shuttle buses, drivers can ditch their cars.
Starting around 5 p.m., four shuttle buses will take people from John F. Kennedy and Conservatory drives to Civic Center.
Street and closures
If the alternative is to take Lyft or Uber, be aware: John F. Kennedy Drive between Kezar Drive and Eighth Avenue will be closed, along with Nancy Pelosi and Bowling Green drives up until Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. But rideshares have a special section at John F. Kennedy Drive, east of Conservatory Drive, saved for them.
Bathrooms and trash
Once you get there, there’s no need to stake out a bush to relieve yourselves behind. Department of Public Works will have portable bathrooms on Waller and Stanyan streets.
And to spare thousands of taxpayer dollars spent on extra Recreation and Parks labor, just remember that trash cans exist. Extra trash, recycling, and compostable bins will be installed throughout the park. Or, you could volunteer to clean up your own mess with a team on Saturday.