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Proposed Glass Ban In City Parks Moves Forward

Trash left in Dolores Park after 2016 Pride weekend. | Photo: Jenn Hughes/Instagram
By Bay City News - Published on September 13, 2017.

A proposed ban on glass containers in all San Francisco parks was forwarded to the full Board of Supervisors by the board's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services committee today with a unanimous recommendation for approval.

However, the legislation by Supervisor Jeff Sheehy was stripped of its most controversial feature, a proposed $1,000 fine for littering and dumping in Dolores Park.

Sheehy introduced the legislation in May in response to ongoing problems with litter and broken glass at the park, which draws large crowds of picnickers and sunbathers on sunny days.

Sheehy said it was important to get glass out of the parks for children and for pets.

"Glass breaks, and I've seen a lot of glass in the park," Sheehy said. "And also for the people who work for us, the more we can do to protect their health and safety, the better."

Overflowing trash was a problem well before Dolores Park recent renovation. | PHOTO: SF RECREATION AND PARK

The proposed fine, however, drew concerns that it could end up disproportionately hurting poor people or serve as a pretext for harassment of the homeless and other vulnerable populations.

It is also unclear how the new ordinance will be enforced, as few citations are issued under current littering laws.

"Littering is not enforced in general in this city, and that is a bigger problem than the amount of the fine," Supervisor Hillary Ronen said.

The city's Recreation and Park Department usually handles changes to the park code by conducting a period of public outreach and education and posting signs before it begins issuing citations, according to department spokeswoman Sarah Madland.

The change could theoretically mean an end to wine bottles at events such as Stern Grove, but Rec and Park officials would still have the ability to allow exemptions for permitted events.

Madland said most complaints about litter and broken glass come from smaller events such as picnics rather than from large permitted events, which are required to have a cleanup plan in place.

Sara Gaiser

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