At last night's monthly Park Station community meeting, Capt. John Sanford, Jr. debriefed attendees about last month's 4/20 festival, shared plans for coping with Bay to Breakers, and offered information regarding recent crime stats in the area.
This year, "We had somewhere in the area of 13 to 15 thousand individuals who decided to indulge in a day of smoking marijuana," said Sanford. "I can truly say it was a day of smoking marijuana, because some of them were out here as early as 5:15 when I got to work that morning."
Park Station officers assigned to the impromptu smoke-in made two warrant arrests, three felony arrests and five for misdemeanors. Citing "officer safety" and the surging crowds, police did not give out any citations for marijuana use or possession. Ten citations were issued for moving violations, officers issued 25 parking tickets and "multiple" people were cited for quality of life crimes, Sanford said.
"I think every year that we do this, we get better as a police agency and as a city in regards to facilitating this event," said Sanford, "but I am definitely not a fan of 4/20. I really do think that the City will need to step up and do something to either legislate the things that happen, or to cancel 4/20 across the board," he said.
"It's simply because of public safety issues," said Sanford. "When you get that many people in one area, you are destined to have some problems."
"This is a recipe for disaster for everyone," said an unnamed resident of 6th Avenue who said traffic detours and unruly throngs of people prevented her from reaching her home for two hours. Once she made it home, there were reports of gunshots on her block.
"What can we do to end this?" she asked. "It's crazy."
"It's incredibly expensive for the city," said Samantha Roxas, an aide to District 5 Supervisor London Breed. "The numbers about how much this costs the City will help us make the case for whether we make it illegal, require that it be sponsored by someone so we have somebody paying for everything, or we just outright don't have it any more," she said.
"We're hopefully getting to that place where the Board of Supervisors is getting to understand the impact it's having on neighbors," she said. According to Roxas, "This year cost a little more than years past," with public safety costs expected to reach $110,000.
To prepare for Bay to Breakers on Sunday, May 15th, Sanford announced plans for street closures and reroutes around the Panhandle, which usually becomes a large party zone during the footrace. "Many people are very intoxicated by the time they reach Baker and Fell," said Sanford, who added that this year's contingency plans again called for a sobering tent.
"There's no doubt that it's going to impact the community," said Sanford, who said Park Station will run a quality-of-life hotline for residents who want to report non-emergency issues on the day of the race. To reach the station's Bay to Breakers command center, call (415) 553-0123.
Crime statistics in Park District held steady over the last month and show a slight decline over the same period last year. By this time in 2015, 163 vehicles had been stolen in the area; this year, that number fell to 126. Similarly, the number of car break-ins declined somewhat from 357 this time last year to 322 in 2016.
All told, there have been 28 robberies in Park District in 2016 thus far, as well as 152 burglaries.
Park Station officers didn't issue any traffic citations to pedestrians or bicyclists last month, but 14 drivers were cited for red light violations, 107 for stop signs, 29 for speeding and 42 for cell phone violations.
The next monthly Park Station meeting will be held at 6pm on Tuesday, June 14th in the station's community room at 1399 Waller St.
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