City Has Big Plans To Make 4/20 Weekend Organized This Time Around

The perfect storm that made 4/20 such a freewheeling mess last year promises to hit Golden Gate Park and the neighborhood again this weekend, with the added fun of the Hunky Jesus Contest, which is being held this year at Hellman Hollow. 

But District 5 Supervisor London Breed and leaders from a variety of city departments assure the neighborhood that they are prepared for the action this weekend promises. 

Preparations come this year after extensive, vocal complaints by local residents in the aftermath of last year's 4/20 celebration, which included a medevac from Hippie Hill, numerous fights on Haight street, a drunk man urinating into a beer cooler at the Haight Street Market, and general chaos.

As of a couple weeks ago, if was unclear to locals just how much citywide support was in the works. Park Station police officers told residents at a monthly community meeting on April 9th that they were unsure how many requested new resources they were going to get to cover 4/20 issues.

Police this year say they will have a stepped-up presence, including undercover officers who will be patrolling the park. No vendors will be allowed, the Parks department will have extra trash cans and port-a-potties, and the city's Juvenile Probation Program will be out in force looking for underage drinking and probation violations.

Given all the problems with traffic congestion last year, the MTA will also be working with the other departments to control traffic and curb illegal parking. 

Readers further down Haight Street from the park should also note that the Northern Station police district, which covers parts of Western Addition, Lower Haight and Hayes Valley, will be out to help deal with overflow crowd and traffic issues. 

Supervisor London Breed struck a balanced tone about the unofficial event.

"People have a right to assemble in parks. They have a right to enjoy the city," she said during the press conference. "I don't feel we can say, 'Don't come here for 420,' but we can say, 'Come to San Francisco, but we're prepared. If you break the law, we will enforce it.' "

She paid particular attention to minors and the broader draw of the unofficial event, while working hard to de-emphasize the city's interest in policing marijuana smoking.

"I saw a significant number of young people out drinking last year, who I knew from the community," said Breed, whose district covers much of central San Francisco and the Haight. 

"I'm not here to be a buzzkill or to judge, but to respect and stay safe. I don't want East Bay parents upset because their kids came here."

Officials noted they have been planning a bigger response since last year, and Police Chief Greg Suhr said Breed has been particularly focused on applying political leverage to get departments involved.

Officials estimated that up to 15,000 people attended last 4/20, perhaps due to the weekend holiday, nearby Giants game, and unusually great weather. 

This time around, the Giants are down in San Diego playing the Padres. But it's also Easter weekend, and the weather forecast is looking great, so be prepared for more crowds. There's a family Easter Egg hunt and barbecue on Saturday, then the Hunky Jesus contest, and each of these events alone is supposed to draw over 5,000 people.

[Update: We changed the officially estimated crowd number from last year to 15,000, based on new information London Breed's office.]

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