Golden Gate Park pot partiers leave behind $15,000 mess

April 22, 2013 8:44:49 PM PDT
Marijuana enthusiasts packed Golden Gate Park over the weekend for the unofficial "420" holiday, but they left behind a mess the city says cost more than $15,000 to clean up.

If you like marijuana, medical or otherwise, Saturday was a celebration of cannabis culture. Some 15,000 people gathered in Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park, also known as "Hippie Hill." But after the day was done, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department crews spent all day Sunday cleaning up an estimated 9,760 pounds of trash.

Allessandra Frederick was there. She said she enjoyed the vibe, but not the mounds of mess.

"I'm not putting them as lazy, dirty marijuana smokers, but the trash was a little disconcerting," she said. "I was concerned about the lawn."

Even though the Sharon Meadow celebration happens every year, it's not a permitted event where the city works with organizers or charges fees, so it's costing taxpayers at least $10,000 for the clean-up. Smoking of any kind is illegal in city parks.

"There are some questions about whether this is an appropriate event to be permitted in our parks, but regardless, when people use our parks, they need to pack it in and pack it out," San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department Director Phil Ginsburg said.

Supervisor London Breed says she is calling for a ban because of the irresponsible behavior and the fact that teenagers were there.

"Since marijuana is illegal, I don't think there's anything that can be done other than making sure there's enforcement to stop the event from happening altogether," Breed said.

But Mayor Ed Lee suggests a more measured response: identifying organizers and working with them.

"The question is if we make attempts to stop, what the reaction will be; does that coalesce into something that becomes a little nightmare for us," Lee said.

The mayor says that's the approach the city took with the annual Valentine's Day pillow fight at Justin Herman Plaza and he believes they have seen an improvement at that event.


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