Undercover Cops Bust Cold Beer Cold Water For Only Selling Cold Water

Here we go again: another spring, another police crackdown of apparently illegal activities in Dolores Park.  Their annual dog and pony show of rounding up dealers and pushers and scolding the citizenry has become predictably routine, sadly.  And it clearly accomplishes nothing.  Alas, SFPD is busy dropping officers in the park while violent crimes remain unsolved.

But while we're not the least bit surprised SFPD has posted up in Dolores again, we cannot help but laugh at their recent bust of James “The Cold Water Guy” for selling bottled water.  That's right, water.  Water.

It was silly enough they had him arrested for flipping PBR for stupid prices last year, but come on.  Who knew SFPD could be this petty.

[Thanks Jack for the tip!]

Comments (31)

God bless these brave heroes.


So. Brave.

“Let’s see, we could go police 16th and Mission, but I don’t want to get shived today. Let’s go bust people hanging out in the park instead.”

It seems obvious that there’s a hands-off policy for 16th and Mission. I presume the thinking is, “we have to keep them somewhere,” and 16th and 6th are the designated repositories.

Must be some sort of glitch in the CompStat system. The map for the last 3 months shows 16th & Mission is by far one of the busiest areas. There are a few things around Dolores, but nothing inside the park.


Seems the Mission station just makes up where they spend their time. But if anyone actually knows why they aren’t just camped out at 16th ST Bart, I’m all ears.

There are almost 1000 SRO rooms within a block of 16th. They can’t / don’t have to stay in their rooms all day, and unlike richer people, they have small rooms. No common areas. So where are they supposed to go, except to a plaza in the city live in? What crime exactly are they breaking? Being poor? Most of the people buying drugs don’t live there/ stick around there. The economics of it just don’t work. Can’t exist selling to poor people.
Sure a lot of them are in various stages of decline/ intoxication, but so are people a few blocks away. And since you don’t want them on your frontstep, where exactly are they supposed to go? And what are they doing wrong besides being unsightly? Poverty isn’t a crime yet.

I envy your innocent, “they’re just poor!” optimism, but maybe you should spend a little time at the intersection, instead of twirling through, throwing flowers to The People with a song in your heart.

You might then see the constant dealing (one “crime they’re exactly breaking”), with predative dealers (maybe if I note their profit-motivation it will get your ire up), selling to the most tragic addicts imaginable. Maybe you’ll also see the meth-destroyed women stepping out from the SRO in search of customers.

No, nothing wrong there. Let them be. It’s just poverty.

Oh man- you want them to bust low level street dealers? And meth-addled prostitutes? Non violent drug offenders and sex workers should not be filling up our jails.

Also the cops don’t seem to want bust people for unleashing a river of urine down Oakwood street near DP. Or the drunk bros and girls a woo hoo outside my door every saturday night. Which I personally wouldn’t mind. But I don’t expect.

I get that the place looks like Beirut during the war, but I’m with that other poster, most of what we see isn’t really a crime. And I think your other point is the most valid in this whole exchange. They have been herded into one / two spots so that elite on Liberty Street don’t have to see them on their way to Flour and Water.

If the cops spent more time there - they would just disperse into the neighborhood proper. Maybe onto alley streets like Lexington and San Carlos.

The meth heads and addled psychedelic/pcp warriors wandering Lexington and the hovels and giant piles of human feces on the blocks between Sycamore and 19th seem to say that dispersion is occurring regardless of police presence.

I agree that justice system solutions aren’t appropriate for most of these situations. but I have to think that everyone recognizes it as a problem, what needs to happen is a frank discussion of viable solutions and the implementation of those solutions. I propose packing em into a bus and sending them to Gerlach, NV, return the favor.

Also, has anyone else noticed an uptick in the number of insane ramblers recently? I wonder if there’s some new strain of crack/meth/pcp out there that’s wigging everyone out, or maybe it’s just the amazing weather blowing their minds.

I have not. The population of insane ramblers seems about as usual. It’s a rotating cast.

Also, has anyone else noticed an uptick in the number of insane ramblers recently?

Yes! The last few days there have been WAY more insane ramblers.

You’re right, of course. I don’t want to send everyone to jail. But I have to imagine a police presence might do *something* to improve the place for everyone, from people walking to BART to the folks living at ground zero. Some sort of inhibiting effect anyway, if not entirely prophylactic.

I’m sure it’s insoluble - junkies will get their junk, dealers will find their customers, there’s nothing to do. But to just give up, “eh, that’s where that happens,” seems inadequate.

Poverty isn’t a crime yet.

Totally agree. But you know what is a crime? Stabbing people, selling crack, shooting people, peeing on the Bart escalators, etc. Let’s not confuse people who are simply poor with people flagrantly breaking the law in public.

“The intersection of Mission and 16th streets continues to produce the highest number of calls to the police station of any area in the district.”

A few examples:






Is there any doubt that placing 1000 SROs in such close proximity is a horribly bad idea? If you put a few hundred drug addicts in the same few blocks, does that make it easier or harder to stay sober? The city could rezone 16th & Mission for much denser transit oriented development. This will have to happen to accomodate the projected population growth of the city anyway. As a condition to accessing the huge profits to developers involved, far more low income housing and SRO facilities could be constructed throughout the mission. Finding ways to integrate the marginalized into the wider community is sound policy. The current situation is pretty much the exact opposite. A human holding pen / open air psych ward that occasionally costs someone their life.

Where are they supposed to go?

How about Dolores Park? Why in hell would any sane person hang out at 16th & Bart all day when that’s 4 blocks away?

Send them back to whatever red state they came from. Its good that we can be the generous city of Saint Francis, but this policy of being the highest bidder among other cities to bring new homeless and psychos to the City in terms of the cost of services and housing is not good a long term policy.

The idea of think globally and act locally is sometimes backwards. We have to come up with a national solution, and stopping being the open wallet for caring for damaged souls.

Illegal stuff is illegal.

And selective enforcement is selective and stuff.


We all know water is a gateway fluid.

This comment made me wet.

Chicken John was right, its basic economics, and well defined property rights. The Recreation and Park Department’s sales of concession licenses won’t raise as much money to pay for needed services if pirate sales of water are occurring. Throw the cheaters out.

Well, rec and park are asleep at the wheel then. They are not providing the services that James is providing at the moment. Hey SF,how about just license Jams to be the “Official cold water guy” Heck,if he was working for the city,he could sell beer to adults too at the same time. If the city was buying the water and reselling it to james to sell then it would seem like a win win. His license could apply to ALL outdoor events on Rec and park Property(Outside lands,HSBG,Bay to breakers,ect)
Oh wait.that would be WAY to simple,no enough meetings not enough money being made by the higher ups….Oh well.
Good luck James. they seem to have it out for just you,for as you were being ticketed We got offers for Pot,pizza,ice cream and even sume magic mushrooms.

Yeah but we all know as soon as the city gives the selling permit to James, as opposed to Chicken John’s girlfriend, the only adult response will be to call a puke in.

I’m not familiar with Chicken john’s GF situation. What does she sell?

She’s the owner of Ritual Roasters. They’ve sold coffee in Dolores Park from time to time.

I am nearly certain this has little to do with Rec & Park’s licensing fees. For starters, these are SFPD officers, not park rangers. Second, I haven’t seen the Chaac-Mool food truck in the park in a long while, so there is no competition to worry about (my suspicion on this is the R&P Department quietly let their temporary permits expire without giving them an opportunity to renew because of the previous controversies, although I have absolutely nothing to back that up).

I suspect this is either SFPD filling quotas or merely ‘showing up’ to prove to noisy neighbors that they are “doing something” about the “problems” in the Park.

can they bust the dirtbags that leave their trash all around then, at least James picks up his stuff….

A Rec and Park employee and police also warned away the deliciouas de Michocan guys that sell popsicles in the push carts, at Mission Playground. And they posted a sign of no sales in both English and Spanish at the entrance off of 19th Street. I do think Rec and Park is involved in pushing to stop regular sales in the park, even if its true that the truck hasn’t been in DP

Several weeks ago, on one of those warm days SFPD was motorcycling through the crowd, and now this drama, come on, leave the people alone

That’s fucking retarded. Leave the guy alone.