By Ted Goldberg
The unofficial marijuana celebration in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park last month cost the city more than $100,000, officials say.
Eric Andersen, the park’s superintendent, said at least 15,000 people attended the this year’s 420 event — the local version of a national pot-smoking observance held each April 20. Pot fans in Golden Gate Park saw a heavy response by police officers, park crews, and transportation staffers.
The extra police staffing cost the San Francisco police department $43,547, said spokesman officer Albie Esparza.
The Municipal Transportation Agency deployed more transit staff, fare inspectors, and parking control officers in Golden Gate Park as well as the surrounding streets in the city’s Richmond, Sunset and Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods. That cost the SFMTA $36,000, according to agency spokesman Paul Rose.
The city’s Recreation and Park Department brought in extra crews to clean up and patrol the park. Workers collected 20,000 pounds of trash. Agency spokeswoman Connie Chan said extra workers were brought in after the festival to pick up trash. That work cost the department $23,000, Chan said.
The city was caught off guard by large crowds at last year’s event, when 15,000 people showed up at Hippie Hill, near the eastern edge of the park. Some of them blocked driveways and left behind lots of garbage. In advance of this year’s event, Supervisor London Breed and police chief Greg Suhr held a press conference to announce strict parking enforcement and a larger police presence.
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener said the preparation paid off.
“The city did a very good job,” Wiener said. “I mean the police, the Rec and Park and other departments were well prepared but when you have a huge crowd coming in smoking pot and leaving their trash in the park, there’s only so much you can do.”
Police arrested about a dozen people at the event.