San Francisco rings in the New Year

December 31, 2009 11:33:21 PM PST
Barricades and 'no parking' signs are going up on the Embarcadero to help San Francisco police control the quarter million people expected to ring in the new year in the city.

Veteran police officers said New Year's celebrations in San Francisco typically stay pretty peaceful. There are some isolated incidents here and there, but they'll be watching known party hot-spots, like along the Embarcadero. And if you're hopping on a BART train to or from the celebrations, transit police have some extra safety strategies in place too.

When the rows of "no stopping" signs start popping up on San Francisco city streets -- you know celebration preparations are underway. From Broadway to the Embarcadero -- these are just a couple of the city's New Year's party hotspots.

Fences are already cropping up around the Ferry Building waterfront, near where the annual fireworks go off at midnight. It's a free show that thousands attend, many as a family outing.

"See the fireworks, obviously because it's good for kids and we'll walk along Embarcadero here and enjoy," said Subid Wagley of Walnut Creek.

A quarter million people are expected to ring in 2010 throughout San Francisco.

"Trying to find some place where I can squeeze in, it's always pretty crowded so I may just end up on the street," said Jeff Blaze of Sausalito.

To keep them safe, police will have a full staff on patrol. Making sure the revelers keep it legal.

"There is zero tolerance for drinking on the street. The bars will be open and people can go inside, but once outside, you can't have any alcohol and we will have plenty of officers out here to enforce that policy," said SFPD Lt. Rich Pate.

And when it's time to go home, if you're riding BART -- plan for packed trains and expect to see a lot of police presence.

With the help of several other Bay Area law enforcement agencies, BART this year is doubling the number of officers riding trains and monitoring stations.

The move to increase safety patrols was partially prompted by last year's fight aboard a train, followed by the fatal shooting of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant by a BART officer.

This year the hope is for peaceful partying.


BART trains are running longer -- until 3 a.m. -- to help get everyone home.

One new strategy this year, to deal with crowd control around the Embarcadero, will be to spread out passengers heading to and from the East Bay, by dividing up the routes between the Embarcadero and Montgomery Street stations.

Starting at 8 Thursday night, trains on the Pittsburg/Bay Point and Richmond lines will not stop at the Embarcadero station.

Instead, passengers headed to those destinations will have to walk two blocks to the Montgomery station to catch their train. Meanwhile, the Dublin/Pleasanton lines will stop at the Embarcadero station, but not at the Montgomery station.

Peninsula and SFO trains will stop at both stations. BART service and stations will remain open until 3 a.m. New Year's Day.


Businesses hope to ring in the New Year with cash registers.

At the Waterfront restaurant on the Embarcadero, business is booming, which has an economic upside for the restaurant, but presents a slight downside for some of the New Year's Eve diners.

"Unfortunately for everyone downstairs, because we have so many guests, we do have a two-hour time limit on our seating downstairs, but for the guests that have paid the $125 for the upstairs, they get their table for the entire evening," says Waterfront manager Anna Johnson.