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 (35)

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.

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?