After the the so-called World Series riots, we sensed the city would switch up the way they handle people dancing in the streets (how could they not? Look what those monsters did to Popeye's!). We got a taste of changing tactics when the Niners bagged the NFC championship, with SFPD blocking traffic on Mission and 24th Streets. Then yesterday we learned the mayor hilariously requested Mission bars not serve 'heavy' booze during or after the game. So it comes as no surprise to learn, via tipster Jefferson McCarley of Mission Bicycle, that multiple city agencies are coming together to ensure things go more smoothy (orderly) on Sunday.
In a meeting held Tuesday between various Mission merchants and SFPD, Public Works, Recology, SFMTA, and the Fire Department, the agencies laid out exactly what to expect: increased police presence, blocking traffic to the neighborhood, “police supported” fire trucks, mandatory towing, trucks “flushing” people from the streets, and powering down overhead electric bus lines.
To summarize the meeting minutes:
- 24th and Mission Streets will become tow-away zones beginning Sunday afternoon (Valencia is excluded, as crowd control hasn't been a problem). This is to make make emergency access easier, reduce risk of vandalism, and make street cleaning more efficient.
- Getting into the Mission will be more cumbersome. For example, there will be no northbound traffic onto Valencia from Cesar Chavez and drivers will have to go up to Guerrero to enter the neighborhood. The people that cause the most damage are usually not the people that live here.
- Our big plastic trash bins are full of fun projectiles and materials that can be used for bonfires. In fact, the entire bins themselves are often thrown into fires. Recology will be making multiple pick-ups throughout the day on Sunday, starting at 10am, and ask people to bring in bins ASAP.
- The police department will have better access to more fire extinguishers to enable them to put out small fires before they become big fires.
- The Fire Department will be working more closely with SFPD so that they will be able to safely get into places that are not safe for them to enter without police support. This will enable them to put out fires that they couldn't put out during the World Series.
- Power will be turned off on overhead electric bus lines for safety.
- A “Flusher Truck” will be dedicated specifically to the Mission District. Around half-time the truck will begin spraying the streets with water. This will make it more difficult to start fires and expedite clean up. A “Sweeper Truck” will be cruising the neighborhood, ramping up around the 3rd quarter. These trucks are noisy and send the message that “the party is over.”
Most of these measures seem perfectly sane and reasonable, especially given how particularly flammable our neighborhood has been lately. And we sure do like the sound of a Special Super Sunday Streets taking place on 24th and Mission. But blockading streets (with the ever delightful parade of motorcycles, low-riders, trucks, and recumbent bicycles along with it) and flushing people off the streets sounds eerily similar to how Democrats treat convention protesters, and that gives us pause.
However, we didn't attend the meeting, and these are just minutes. Plus, there's our inherent and unshakeable skepticism of anything the po-lease does. So rather than trying to interpret what this all means, we reached out to Jefferson for thoughts on the proposals and the general vibe of the conversation:
On making it more cumbersome to get into the Mission, I trust that there may be some science behind that. It does seem pretty common that it's not those of us that live here that are destroying our own neighborhood. I'm sure you could find exceptions, but people tend to prefer to smash car windows in other people's neighborhoods. And they are not even pretending to keep people out. It's just a little bit more of a pain in the ass.
A significant part of the strategy is showing more police presence. Yeah, buzz kill. True. But if the goal is less graffiti, fewer smashed windows, and a reduction in the number of incinerated plastic recycle bins, I'll bet it works.
Generally, I appreciate the efforts that all of these agencies have taken. And I'm actually impressed to see very different agencies working so closely together. I'd like to see more of that kind of thing.
Having said all that, I will be disappointed if the goal is to squelch any spontaneous “party in the street celebrations.” But I'll be surprised if that's what we see. All these government employees are 49ers fans too. I tried to ask the question “Are there riots when a team loses or only when a team wins? What happens if we lose?” The room erupted in shouting and dismay. My question was never answered. Apparently there's no way we can lose.