What To Expect On 4/20 In The Haight [Updated]

What To Expect On 4/20 In The Haight [Updated]

Photo via SFCitizen

By Camden Avery - Published on April 10, 2015.

The Haight's most official, unofficial holiday is in just a week and a half, and we checked in with Capt. John Sanford of the SFPD Park Station and Supervisor London Breed's office to see what's on deck this year in the way of logistical accommodations.

As a refresher on the event, 4/20 fell on Saturday and Sunday over the last two years, a fact which was thought to be the cause of an unusual degree of chaos and violence, including fights, property destruction, an estimated 10,000 pounds of garbage in the park alone and, two years ago, a medevac from Hippie Hill.

The mayhem was addressed in a prompt statement from Supervisor Breed's office back in 2013, and led to an extensive overhaul in how the district addressed the event the following year, which posed the logistical quandary of policing an unofficial event with no accountable sponsors.

Last year's initiatives included increasing the number of uniformed and plainclothes officers in the area, limited parking with amplified parking enforcement, and rerouted Muni transit lines.

In an email to Hoodline, new Park Station Captain John Sanford said that in his first nine days at his new post, he'd already met twice with Supervisor London Breed, who is steering the preparations for 4/20 this year. "She took the lead," he said, "to make sure the police department is doing everything possible to address many of the concerns from last year."

In response to queries about how many extra officers the Haight could expect, Capt. Sanford kept it vague.

"Unfortunately," he said in the email, "due to Homeland Security and safety concerns we do not talk about the specific number of officers assigned to an event and whether they are coming from different district or off duty officers. I can say that we have a lot of experience with managing crowds here in San Francisco. We always have contingency plans in place and this event will also have one in place."

In a separate statement, Capt. Sanford said that traffic on Haight would be shut down not for the entire day but only as needed, and depending on what the crowds look like. For now, the plan is to shift westbound Fell traffic northbound onto Stanyan from 3pm to 7pm to keep traffic off of Kezar Drive.

Capt. Sanford emphasized that the Park Station was still open to recommendations about other measures to take this year.

Vallie Brown, aide to Supervisor Breed, stated that when it comes to safety and security, Breed is deferring to the police department. However, Breed's office has enlisted additional Muni buses to run away from the 4/20 nexus between 2pm and 5pm, in order to speed up dispersal of the event.

As for cleanup, DPW will be lined up to clean from Waller Street to the Panhandle after the event, and Rec & Parks will be in charge of cleanup around Alvord Lake and Panhandle Park. "We'll be spending a lot of resources for this, even though it's an unofficial event," said Brown, highlighting the challenging nature of the event. "It costs so much money because we have to have people work overtime."

As for additional bathroom facilities, the option is still being explored, but funds are tight. "We'd love to see some of the medical cannabis clubs donate their time to clean up the park," said Brown. "It would be nice if they'd help with portable bathrooms" or donate cleanup time, she said.

"We're still working on it to try to do the best we can with the resources available."

As always, expect over 10,000 extra people in the neighborhood, long lines at liquor stores, and a busy sidewalk.

Update, 4/17: London Breed's office has issued the following notification:

"Due to public safety concerns about the 420 gatherings in Golden Gate Park, the Police Department is planning to close westbound Kezar Drive (the thoroughfare connecting Fell and Lincoln) from about 3PM to 7PM on Monday. This will be during commute hours. Traffic will be a nightmare."

SFist reports that the SFMTA will also shut down the following areas to all traffic aside from Muni. Update: SFist has let us know that their previously reported street closure information, below, is incorrect

  • Haight Street between Masonic and Stanyan streets
  • Waller Street between Masonic and Stanyan streets
  • Stanyan Street between Frederick and Oak streets
  • Shrader Street between Beulah and Waller streets
  • Kezar Drive between Lincoln Way and John F. Kennedy Drive

... along with the following Haight Street intersections: Ashbury, Clayton, Shrader, Cole and Belvedere Streets.