This year, with an official sponsor providing cleanup and security, San Francisco's 420 event may be the cleanest one yet—and one the city hopes will be less costly.
Earlier today, city and police officials gathered at Park Station to explain how the city is leveraging cannabis-related businesses to manage one of the world's largest smoke-ins. Although the event remains officially unsanctioned, sponsorship revenue will be used to offset the city's costs.
In 2016, 13,000 to 15,000 people flocked to the east end of Golden Gate Park to celebrate and consume marijuana. Attendees left behind more than 10,000 pounds of litter and committed a plethora of quality-of-life infractions around the neighborhood, ranging from public urination to property damage.
Despite the lively crowd, Park District police only arrested eight people last year.
District 5 Supervisor London Breed, whose district includes the Upper Haight, has worked with city departments since 2013 to coordinate a response plan.
This year, she thanked Alex Aquino, co-owner of Haight Street's Black Scale, for "stepping up" to help make the party cleaner and safer.
"He saw that this was a challenge and how expensive it was for the city," she said, noting that the city's bill for last year's party was between $100,000 and $140,000.
Aquino, who's also a board member of Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, said he got involved in 4/20 Day because he's been personally impacted by the yearly celebration.
"This is where I live — this is where I have my livelihood and where I raise my child," he said. "This is just to keep 420 alive. I want people to have a safe and clean time."
A collective of six canna-businesses calling itself "Heart To Heart" has paid for fencing around Sharon Meadow and roughly 200 portable toilets that will be placed in the park and around the neighborhood. The firms "are all local native shops and businesses," said Aquino.
Private security will work inside the fence, enforcing bans on barbecues, glass paraphernalia, weapons and amplified music. Heart To Heart has also hired Taking It To The Streets to provide cleanup services during and after the event. "They’re gonna have the full crew on site of the day and the evening after," Aquino said.
"This is a co-produced event with the city," he added, "so these are their rules and regs — we’re just helping them regulate it."
Heart To Heart is also bringing in food trucks, along with vendors who'll pay to display wares in tents and kiosks.
Aquino declined to say how much revenue the city will receive, but "it’s way over $100,000," he told Hoodline. "I'm not going to say it's at the $200,000 mark, but it’s pretty close."
This is also the first year 4/20 Day will have a recycling plan, along with two ambulances and security teams checking to make sure everyone's 21 and over.
"I’m a father first and foremost, and having the youth there, I just want to make sure that they’re safe and sanitary," said Aquino.
"We know that bringing 13 to 15 thousand people to the Sharon Meadows area obviously has a great impact on this community," said Park Station Capt. John Sanford, Jr., "so we are bringing police resources in from all over the city."
In addition to SFPD, park rangers will be on site, along with a command post for San Francisco Fire Department, Juvenile Probation and Department of Health.
"420 is no event for children," said Sanford, who said his station is working with Family & Children Services and would take enforcement action "if necessary."
He also noted that Animal Care & Control would be on hand to "address any vicious animal that can present a danger to the public” inside the event perimeter.
Sanford said residents should call 911 to report emergencies, but quality-of-life infractions can be phoned in to Park Station's 4/20 Day hotline tomorrow between 11am and 8pm at 415-242-3060 and 415-242-3061.
Residents should report "any quality of life issue whatsoever," said Sanford. "We want to be able to serve this community in the best capacity that we can."
"I truly believe that this is probably going to be one of the most organized and best events yet because of our collaboration," said Breed. "We're trying to make sure that we keep people safe and our neighborhoods clean, and that when 4/20 hits, you may not even know the event even happened."
Whether you're heading to 4/20 or avoiding it, here's what you need to know for tomorrow's event.
Unless issues arise, no street closures are planned for tomorrow, but parking control officers will be available to divert traffic around crowded areas near Haight Street and Sharon Meadow.
Riders on the 6, 7, 7R, 33, 37 and 43 lines are encouraged to follow @SFMTA on Twitter to stay abreast of any service interruptions or delays.
Muni plans to keep extra-capacity shuttles on standby in Golden Gate Park to fill in gaps on nearby lines and also move large crowds directly to Civic Center BART; these vehicles will stage on JFK Drive.
Parking on Kezar Drive and along the east end of Golden Gate Park (not including the Panhandle) is prohibited from 10pm tonight until 7pm tomorrow.
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