San Francisco

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2016: A Survival Guide For Residents

Founded by late investor, philanthropist, and amateur banjo player Warren Hellman, this weekend's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass will host over 100 acts performing on seven stages, including Mary Chapin Carpenter, Yo La Tengo, Mavis Staples, Cyndi Lauper, and much, much more. 

Between September 30th and October 2nd, an estimated 750,000 people are expected to make their way to Hardly Strictly, an even bigger crowd than the one that descends on Golden Gate Park and the Avenues for Outside Lands (which averages "only" 210,000 attendees).

In an interview with SF Sounds, Warren Hellman's son Mick Hellman said that "[festival producer Dawn] Holliday has an unwavering stance on easing any concerns of the festival’s neighbors in the Sunset and Richmond districts, meeting with neighborhood associations and establishing a hotline for questions and complaints."

With that in mind, here's what residents can expect over the three days of the festival, including park closures, street closures, and how to deal with event issues.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass sees over 750,000 attendees over three days. | Photo: Eugene Kim/Flickr

Community Hotline

As with Outside Lands, a hotline has been established to triage issues stemming from the event. This weekend, call (415) 650-3080.


With so many people coming into the area, street parking will be in short supply. While the festival encourages walking, public transportation, and biking, some attendees will still be driving in--and potentially blocking driveways.

"It is very important that we all respect the neighbors around the park—do not block driveways, clean up after yourselves, and keep noise levels down," the festival writes on its website. "Remember that people live here, and do not use yards as toilets or trash cans."

Some schools in the Richmond and Sunset are taking advantage of the crowds to offer paid parking in their lots as a school fundraiser. If you know folks who must drive in, encourage them to skip circling for street parking and go to the schools instead.

Here are the Richmond and Sunset district schools offering parking:

  • George Washington High School at 600 32nd Ave. [Entrance on 30th Ave. between Geary and Anza.]
  • Argonne at 680 18th Ave. [Entrance at Cabrillo between 17th Ave. and 18th Avenues.] $40, cash and credit card accepted.
  • Lafayette (Sat. and Sun. only) at 4545 Anza St. [Entrance at 36th between Anza and Balboa.]
  • Jefferson Elementary School (Sat. and Sun. only) at 1725 Irving St. [Entrance on 18th Ave. between Irving and Judah.] $30, cash only.
  • Lawton Alternative School (Sat. and Sun. only) at 1570 31st Ave. [Entrance on 30th Ave. between Kirkham and Lawton.] $20, cash and credit card accepted.
Bike parking at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in 2008. | Photo: Jay Walsh/Flickr

Getting Around

The SFMTA will be providing additional service this weekend on both the N-Judah light rail and the 5/5R bus lines. Within the park, the free Golden Gate shuttle will also be operating.

Temporary taxi stands and monitored bike parking will also be available.

However, even with added service, public transportation will be crowded. Walking or biking near the area is the best bet.

Street Closures

Within Golden Gate Park, many of the streets west of Crossover Drive will be closed between Friday, September 30th and Monday, October 3rd. Here is the exact schedule from SF Rec and Park:

  • Transverse Drive closed from Crossover Drive (25th Avenue) to Martin Luther King Drive from 6am Friday until 11:55pm Sunday.
  • JFK Drive closed, between Stowe Lake Circle and 36th Avenue from 8pm Thursday until 6pm on Monday.
  • 30th Avenue closed from Fulton to JFK Drive from 8pm Thursday until 6pm Monday.
  • 36th Avenue from Fulton to the turnaround from 6am Friday until 11:55pm on Sunday.
  • JFK Drive closed from 36th Avenue to Chain of Lakes Drive from 6am Friday until 11:55pm on Sunday.
  • Polo Fields parking area on both the north (stables) and south side of the Polo fields from 6am on Friday until 1pm on Monday.
  • Middle Drive West from Transverse Drive to MLK Drive from Friday at 6am until 11:55pm on Sunday.
  • Overlook Drive from Transverse Drive to Middle Drive West from Friday at 6am until 11:55pm on Sunday.
  • Metson Drive from Middle Drive West to MLK from Friday at 6am until 11:55pm on Sunday.

For people hoping to use the polo fields this weekend, note that they will only be available on Friday and/or Saturday:

  • JFK (North side): Access will be provided on Friday and Saturday for soccer players. They will be instructed to enter on 36th Avenue and allowed to park on JFK between 36th Avenue and Chain of Lakes Drive.
  • MLK (South side): Access will be allowed on Friday for after-school soccer use.

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