San Francisco city officials have announced increased security measures and road closures to deal with this year's "4/20" celebration in Golden Gate Park.
An unofficial holiday of sorts for cannabis consumers, approximately 15,000 people gather on and near Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park each April 20 to partake in marijuana and revel in the culture.
Steven Hager, a freelance writer, is something of a historian when it comes to "4/20."
U.S. & World
News from around the country and around the globe
"We want '4/20' to be like a New Year's Eve, last a whole week," he said. "You know what I mean?"
He claims it was created by a group of San Rafael High School students in the 70s – nicknamed the Waldos – who would get high at 4:20 p.m.
The Waldos were in San Francisco tonight and expressed amazement at the number of people who attend the “4/20” event at Golden Gate Park.
They’re also aware of its impact, though.
“We want people to clean up,” said event co-creator Steve Caper. “It's really important. The public works and the police, they're really adamant about it this year.”
City officials led by Board President London Breed have put plans in place over the last three years to address the impact the event has had on traffic and the park and nearby residential streets plagued with issues such as litter, public urination and damage to public and private property.
"To be clear, there is no sponsor for '4/20,' and therefore no fiscal organizer to hold accountable," said Breed in a statement. "But as a City who welcomes visitors from all over the world, we need to do everything possible to ensure a safe, peaceful April 20th for both visitors and residents. Our goal is to ensure public safety, and as such, there will be no tolerance for visitors who are using '4/20' as an excuse to damage our parks and neighborhoods."
The statement revealed that this year's celebration will be met with increased police and juvenile probation officer presence at the park (as well as park rangers) and the surrounding neighborhoods. Traffic and parking control officers who will be ticketing and towing illegally parked vehicles.
Portable bathrooms will be temporarily installed on Waller and Stanyan streets for public use and increased trash, recycling and compost receptacles will be brought into the park.
There will also be extensive street closures starting at 10 a.m. and re-routing of eight Muni lines starting at 3 p.m., with the possibility of additional street closures if public safety demands them.
While "4/20" isn't a city-santioned event, Breed calls on attendees to be respectful.
"There are a lot of folks coming and having a good time, but we also want them to respect the city, respect the space, and respect the neighborhood," Breed stressed.
Below is a full list of street closures and Muni detours:
- The San Francisco Police Department will enforce the following street closures beginning at 10 a.m.:
- Haight, Page and Waller streets between Masonic and Stanyan streets
- Stanyan Street between Frederick and Oak streets
- Shrader Street between Beulah and Waller streets
- Oak and Waller streets at Ashbury, Clayton, Shrader, Cole and Belvedere streets
- Frederick Street at Shrader Street
- Beulah Street at Shrader and Cole street
- During the time of street closures, no traffic will be allowed with an exception of Muni buses. Personnel from SFPD may decide additional street closures as crowds grow for public safety.
- Beginning at approximately 3 p.m., the following Muni lines and routes will be affected:
- N Judah, NX N Express, 6 Parnassus, 7 Haight/Noriega, 7R Haight/Noriega Rapid, 33 Ashbury/18th, 37 Corbett, 43 Masonic