SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — City leaders in San Francisco on Tuesday morning unveiled plans to minimize problems at the annual unsanctioned 4/20 celebration in Golden Gate Park.
The gathering for the unofficial marijuana holiday is expected to draw as many as 15,000 people to the area of the park known as “Hippie Hill.” This year, the city will be increasing the restrictions at the event in an attempt to keep crowds safe.
“Love it or hate it, the culturally historic 4/20 festival is not going away and it has significant impacts on our streets, on our neighborhoods, and on our parks,” said SF Board of Supervisors President London Breed.
This year, city officials are hoping to increase public safety and decrease congestion the massive crowds bring, especially in the Haight-Ashbury and the neighborhoods surrounding Golden Gate Park.
Another major change: for the first time, the city is working with a private sponsor to offset some costs.
“They’re paying for the fencing, they’re paying for additional security,” said Phil Ginsburg, the General Manager of the city’s Rec and Parks department.
Those planning to attend this unsanctioned event at Hippie Hill will have more restrictions than last year.
“There will be no drugs for sale, no unauthorized music and no permitted concessions and no alcohol,” said Breed.
Fencing cordoning off the main area where revelers will gather on Thursday had already been set up Wednesday.
A group of merchants with experience in staging events including the Haight Street Fair have come together to provide services for the event.
Alex Aquino, owner of men’s clothing store Black Scale, said he and other Haight Street merchants have raised more than $100,000 to set up fencing, security, medical personnel, approved food vendors and, perhaps most importantly, restrooms.
A San Francisco native and father who lives close to the park, Aquino said that by stepping up to provide some event management, his group was “just trying to do the right thing” to protect the park and neighborhood and keep people safe.
“I’m a merchant on the block and this is my life right here, and I just wanted to make it better,” Aquino said. “It’s one of the biggest events that comes to the park already. There’s a void there and we just wanted to help out.”
The new event management will also be enforcing some rules for the event. Those attending will be going through security at the two entrance gates manned by guards. Attendees are asked to avoid bringing glass, barbecues and cooking equipment, amplified sound equipment, generators or tents, tables and other structures. No marijuana or alcohol will be sold inside the fence.
This will be an adults-only event with and 18-and-over age restriction. 40-45 park rangers will be monitoring what goes on in addition to an undisclosed number of San Francisco police officers.
“Respect the park. You come, you bring stuff in. You pack it in, you pack it out,” said Ginsburg.
Post 4/20 clean-up plans were also discussed as the city organizes resources to remove the approximately 10,000 pounds of trash that’s expected to be left in the park Thursday.