SFPD Renews Campaign Against Fun in Dolores Park

If you remember the summer of 2009, the police began enforcing drinking laws in Dolores Park through rumor and spectacle.  Then a leaked memo dropped, brought headlines to SFgate, the Examiner, and forced Bevan Dufty to actually come out of his hole to sit down with bloggers, journalists and park activists.  The result of the controversy was an absence of continued police presence well into 2010.

Suddenly last weekend, news spread of SFPD kicking out the commerce.  Then this week signs went up around the park telling people not to smokes and drink.  Was this a sign of a 2009 relapse?

Yesterday afternoon, a pack of 5 police officers armed with guns and dirt bikes went through the entire park, forcing people to throw out their beers, leash their dogs and stop selling ice cream sandwiches.

An aspiring hot dog vendor was cited by this officer, likely costing her all the money earned that afternoon.

Ice cream vendors were also asked to leave.

I watched police escort this harmless, quiet man out of the park.  He wasn't visibly doing anything aside from drinking a tallboy.

Is this waste of resources going to become a daily routine for SFPD?  Sure hope not.

UPDATE: SFPD confirms to Mission Loc@l that they are, in fact, stepping up patrols in the park and they have no estimation as to when they'll back off.

Comments (49)

We were there yesterday afternoon and were hounded by some sketchy angry dude to buy his beer. When we saw the moto-cop we pointed him out. They said not a peep about our off leash dogs. But this is overkill…

Grrrrrh …

it is always difficult to prove a negative (e.g., the prevention of criminal activity by have police around).

Turnstiles and frisking are the next order of business.

You guys aren’t looking at this from the police perspective. Which isn’t the only one, but it’s worth understanding.

Somebody gets robbed and attacked, almost killed, so they have to do something. Robbery and assault often has to do with low-lifes hanging around, so you need to crack down on them. The broken windows theory also suggests that lawbreaking promotes lawbreaking, so bothering about little issues helps prevent big ones.

Now they could just hassle people who look dubious to them. But that’s at least classist, and could easily be, or be seen as being, racist. So to be fair – which is part of their job – they need to enforce the various laws and regulations somewhat evenhandedly. Ergo, they’re going to stop drinking by hipsters in the day as well as degenerates at dusk. And as long as they’re going to be doing extra patrols, they’re going to be keeping an eye on everybody, thus dealing with the illegal vendors and the loose dogs.

Yes, it sucks when some asshole ruins it for everybody. Yes, it would be nice if the cops had time to make finer distinctions between truly problematic behavior and things that merely correlate with it, like public drinking or off-leash dogs. But there is a limited amount they can do. They’ve got circa 2500 officers to cover 49 square miles and 800,000 people. They’re doing the best they know with what they have.

It won’t help anything to act like it’s some inexplicable thing, or like the man is just trying to keep you down.

well played.

Finally someone whose beliefs don’t reek of entitlement. I wish the vocal and visible people in our neighborhood sounded more like you.

“Entitlement” or Freedom?

I go to the park drink beer and smoke pot responsibly and inconspicuously. And what is more, nice gentlepeople come through and collect my empties.

There is a difference between the behavior i’ve written about and the act of mugging and physically hurting people.

That said I suppose I would have a problem with people carrying guns and perhaps hard drugs to sell in the park but I haven’t experienced that.

Finally, I would be more than happy to take my family (old parents and baby kids) to Dolores. I’m not sure however what they would think of seeing moto cops sweeping through singling people out however.

William, you neglect to note that the stabbing happened during the middle of the night and was completely unrelated to the daytime activities in the park. I do agree that to only “hassle people who look dubious to them” is both racist and illegal, but focusing your patrols based on the time of day is neither a crime nor classist/racist. To deploy an army of dirtbike cops on a Friday afternoon, a time of day in which no violent crime is going to occur organically thanks to the scores of camera-welding witnesses and bystanders, is ultimately a waste of resources in a generally-safe part of the neighborhood. It’s not an issue of the police not having time to “make finer distinctions between truly problematic behavior” and drinking, it’s an issue of them not needing them to be there at that time of day period.

Last summer, the policy was to “not issue citations unless the offender was noticeably drunk, belligerent or violent.” Friday’s actions marked a clear departure from that policy. Again, they escorted a peaceful individual drinking a beer out of the park. They kicked out individuals trying to earn a living. They were not preventing dangerous crime; they were merely enforcing antiquated laws that do not reflect popular opinion.

Drinking beer in Dolores Park does not make you MLK, but every rational being in this city knows that enjoying booze in the park on a Friday afternoon does no harm. People in SF get to openly enjoy weed for the same reason: our city and state recognizes that federal law is outdated and based on racist opinions. Our “street food” laws are broken and the permitting costs and bureaucracy make it impossible to be a small vendor in this town. Our public drinking laws are clearly outdated and need reform. Yet, we live in the city that lacks the political will to address these minor issues. For the most part, they don’t need to be addressed, they just don’t need to be enforced.

Well stated point that the crowd of people on a Friday afternoon with cell phone cameras keeps the park safe.

But isn’t it also true, that it is a different Captain in charge of Mission Station, than was there a year ago. Greg Corales has a different history.

You could say, Kevin, that people in SF get to openly enjoy weed because the state recognizes that federal law is outdated and based on racist opinions.

Furthermore, however, as long as weed stays illegal, the people who suffer are the “criminals”, both kids and grown people running in gangs and selling drugs (such as this recent person who had been stabbed to death) a vast majority of whom are people of color. Weed is illegal because the government has no investment in people of color, particularly people of color with limited options who resort to drug-related crime. A person who truly cares about racist motives would abstain from smoking weed until it became legal, so as to not contribute to government agenda. Because white people tend to stay in their bubble and not pay attention whatsoever to these drug-related deaths (after all, it is not the family members of white people who are dying) they continue to buy weed regularly and unapologetically, feeding into the system that has been set in place for everyone of all races everywhere, certainly beyond the U.S.

White people buy things like free-range chickens and eggs even though it is more expensive, so as to counteract animal cruelty in the meat industry. White people buy organic even though it is more expensive, so as to prevent ingesting as many cancer-causing agents with their food. White people buy fair trade even though it is more expensive so that they can support living wage workers. White people buy handmade even though it is more expensive so that they don’t feed into China’s outsourcing. So once white people start saying they will boycott the buying and using of marajuana in the name of all people of color who have died drug-related deaths - a claim against racism will be made. They can use the money they save on boycotting marajuana for everything else they buy.

I thought the police perspective was - we’ve got better things to do then crack down on harmless four loco experimentation and pbr drinking. It seems like in every other country (France say) people can go to the park and have a few drinks. This “broken windows theory” is problematic for me because where do you draw the line? How much order do you want? Is it really a prudent use of resources even when you take in account of the “broken windows theory.”

My goodness I’d love to see moto cops cruising the beat at 2am in the park but that’s what they don’t do. I haven’t see a cop walking the beat in the Mission since Mission Local did that article shadowing two cops.

I like the cops in this city. They’re nice people. I feel certain someone outside the police department told them to do this.

It doesn’t rile me too much because I can turn to a flask of sorts which is pathetic but such is my wonderful drinking habit.

“Yes, it would be nice if the cops had time to make finer distinctions between truly problematic behavior and things that merely correlate with it, like public drinking or off-leash dogs. “

By not making this distinction, the argument is that they are actually wasting more time/ resources while not solving the problem. See the real issue w/ profiling isn’t that it’s ‘classist’ or ‘racist’… the issue is that it is bad police work.

I agree that one must look at it from all perspectives. Having said that, the stabbing which happened in the park occurred at 1:30 in the morning. To conflate what happens on a Sunday afternoon with what happened late at night, misses the point of effective policing. Unless this is really about bringing in some revenue for the city through tickets and fines and less about fearing the hot dog carts.

William, your honorary badge is in the mail, you can pin it to your lapel. Square.

Sweeping the park and stopping people from selling ice cream, having a brew, or smoking a joint won’t do anything. Some dude was, unfortunately, probably in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s it. Wow, the cops swept the park in the middle of the day, rode over the grass on their motorcycles, and left. How’s that for creating close ties with the community? Fortunately, they created an opportunity for you to be ingratiating.

Your prescriptions (cracking down on low-lifes and bothering about little issues) that referenced the whole broken windows theory have failed. We have the highest rate of incarceration in the world. California has been ordered to release roughly 50,000 inmates because of overcrowding, yet you think it is perfectly acceptable to continue the same type of policing that created the overcrowding crisis. Low-income individuals, families, and communities have been destroyed because their very lives have been criminalized. That’s what broken windows is, the criminalization of poverty.

no one is getting jumped and stabbed at 6pm on Friday, how about running the cops on motobikes after 10pm, and what the hell, focusing on the bridge and western end. I don’t think the people that jumped that dude are making the broken windows connection to those having a drink and smoke during the day and preying upon wasted people passing through the park at night…

It’s ridiculous to go after vendors who are doing nothing. This is just a ply to suck more money out of people trying to make a living and stuffing the coffers on the police department. As one guy said earlier nothing happens in the park until after dark. Let people be and all will be good !

“I don’t think the people that jumped that dude are making the broken windows connection to those having a drink and smoke during the day and preying upon wasted people passing through the park at night…”

I think that this is exactly what they are doing. The park is full of wasted people on a Friday afternoon, and anyone who might be looking for an easy target would be wise to come to Dolores Park to find one. I think there is a clear correlation between the loose attitude toward most park rules during the day and an increase of crime in the night. Obviously, people disagree. Even people in the same house!

We can’t assume that these signs are coming up for any reason other than because of problematic drinking and/or smoking. Thousands of people come out every weekend, and tons of them leave behind cigarette butts and all kinds of litter, including orange peels and other stuff that people justify leaving behind because it’s organic.

The park is simply too crowded for the neighbors, and they have every right to stay and complain. Prohibiting alcohol and enforcing it has got to be an effective way of preventing such huge crowds from forming.

I love hanging out at Dolores Park, but for god’s sake, we don’t need a beer in our hands every goddamned second.

“tons of them leave behind cigarette butts…”
The City of San Francisco has thoughtfully added a twenty cent tax to every single pack of cigarettes sold.
This tax pays specifically for cleaning up cigarette butts, and nothing else.
If the City is not doing it’s part by cleaning Dolores Park with it’s new 11 million dollar slush fund, don’t blame the smokers.
Also, a few more trash cans and ashtrays on city streets probably wouldn’t hurt.


Your comment expressed a point of view I had not heard before, and I learned something.

A city-sponsored cleanup effort is not license to litter. Besides, how often do you suppose some paid individual goes through to pick them all up? Likely not before the next group of people decides to come hang out in the spot you left behind. Just be courteous and pick up after yourself. I’m a smoker and I don’t leave cigarette butts at the park. It’s really not hard.

Well it looks like you all are going to have to deal with it then. Hanging out with your friends in the park is pretty great when you’re sober, too.

(er, that was supposed to be in reply to KevMo above)

I like turtles

I wonder at the right of people living in the immediate area to be having an issue with people in a public park paid for by the city and its taxpayers, this park belongs to everyone in the city not just the immediate locals. Public order, littering, vandalism of a public asset should not be tolerated but behavior such as having a drink, a smoke or buying a hot dog from a vendor is probably not entirely legal but socially acceptable to the vast amount of the taxpaying public.

while there is a small contingent of NIMBY neighbors that don’t like any noise or fun in the park, the vast majority of DP neighbors revel in living near the park. The issues we have is with the 1% of assclown visitors that can’t hold their booze and seem to think it’s fine to leave broken glass, cig butts and assorted other trash in the park and piss on our front steps on their way back to BART. Stabbing other park visitors sucks too….

“seem to think it’s fine to leave …cig butts …”
The City of San Francisco has thoughtfully added a twenty cent tax to every single pack of cigarettes sold.
This tax pays specifically for cleaning up cigarette butts, and nothing else.
If the City is not doing it’s part by cleaning Dolores Park with it’s new 11 million dollar slush fund, don’t blame the smokers.
Also, a few more trash cans and ashtrays on city streets probably wouldn’t hurt.


The city collects garbage fees, does that mean I can just throw my trash out the window as well? Smokers that just toss their butts everywhere are self-centered assclowns, as is anyone that litters…

Considering you are not opposed to the act of smoking and drinking, the solution isn’t an outright ban, but using existing liter laws to ticket offenders who carelessly drop their cigarettes in the park.

Have a city guy in the park and if there is any littering slap a fine on the offender. City gets new revenue, patrons get to enjoy the park responsibly, neighbors happy, problem solved.

Good points!!

Fucking police can suck it, so can the whiny neighbors, eat a bag of dicks

Stereotyping is not racist……it’s factual.

I think this is a direct result of the violence proliferated during the Box Wars of 2010. Do you feel safe when there is this kind of heartless savagery being displayed in the middle of a otherwise peaceful Sunday afternoon? I only wish there had been more dirtbike cops to round up the participants…


I agree that this all may be unnecessary and will eventually die down, but was the point of mentioning that the cops were armed with guns? They’re SFPD and thus carry firearms with them while on duty, just like 99% of the cops in America. That’s just an inflammatory comment with the sole purpose of tapping into leftist anti-cop misplaced anger. It’s like mentioning that they have uniforms. Or feet.

And as for food vendors, yes we all love the creme brulee cart and such, but the majority of these people are in fact operating without a license. As much as we love to complain about them being hassled by “the man” the reality is that those licenses exist for a reason, namely to ensure food safety. As soon as somebody gets sick or dies from salmonella from eating at one of those carts then everyone will be up in arms.

Most of those vendors operate out of commercial kitchens now and are no more likely to get you sick then any restaurant. Those permits are an artifact of bureaucracy.

“those licenses exist for a reason, namely to ensure ” revenue for city employees, including cops.
How about if I promise not to be “up in arms” ? Then can I have a creme brulee?

Seriously – it is absurd that the police are riding motorcycles in the park. Totally unnecessary and totally sends the wrong message to the citizenry – and is a waste of my taxpayer money!

Police patrols in DP should be on foot. Using bicycles might be OK sometimes, but, in peacetime, never motorcycles!

Build community. Eye contact. Everybody take off their damn dark glasses, too.

@ rational leftist: I agree completely, regarding the food vendors. It’s the same gripe that’s popping up all over the city, from food vendors to antique dealers. I have no sympathy for people who try to get away with operating without licenses, and finally get busted. I’ve always operated my cart with a proper permit. It’s just business. People need to stop it with all this entitled bullshit. It’s not the man keeping you down. It’s called being a viable, responsible citizen.

@ the rest of you hipster douchebags: Bitch about the cops all you want. Once someone you know is stabbed in the park, come back and update your comments. The park belongs to everyone, so stop treating it like your personal dumping ground. If you can’t respect the park, don’t expect anyone to respect you. I usually enjoy Dolores, but there are quite often far too many douches with untrained dogs full of self-entitlement and completely lacking in the most basic civility. Grow up.

All you lazy hipsters. stop whining and grow up. If drinking alcohol is illegal in the park then dont do it.

Cops enforcing the posted rules of the park and the laws of the city? I have no problem with that.

Cops riding their Enduros through the park to conduct their enforcement? I have a problem with that. Unless they’re engaged in the high-speed pursuit of a felony suspect, it’s inexcusable for them to be conducting this kind of enforcement sweep through the park on motorcycles.

Someone was stabbed in the middle of the night during a botched drug deal. The n…ew Mission district police captain, in order to assuage public fear and prove that he’s a man of action, sends the most conspicuous patrol imaginable into the park to enforce what petty laws are being broken that day. The point was to demonstrate to criminals and concerned citizens that the police are in control of the public domain and that the new captain isn’t ineffectual. This was a spectacle, a symbolic exercise. I could be wrong, but I doubt the police are trying to eradicate beer drinking, loafing, and ice cream sales in Dolores Park.

The reality, though “not fun”, is that public drinking, smoking pot, selling hot dogs and pot truffles, and letting your dog run around off-leash, are all illegal in the Park, from what I can tell. Whether we agree or disagree, laws are laws.

Great read but what you aren’t telling me is why.
Specifically why are the police doing doing this and by who’s order or request?
Observations are nice but hard answers are more empowering.
Provide some and I will make your column a regular drive by.

So.. throw more cig butts create more jobs?

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