No one has a problem with the footrace and its early spectators
B2B at 100: An ongoing series about neighborhood efforts to reclaim Bay to Breakers as a foot race and party that San Franciscans can support and celebrate for all the edgy, quirky, and fabulous things it has represented for most of its 99 year history.
Six neighborhood and merchant associations have had enough of the city-sanctioned havoc that accompanies the Bay to Breakers after-party. In a June 15th letter sent to Mayor Gavin Newsom, the groups describe "escalating illegal and dangerous conduct"that threatens their neighborhoods with "increasingly brazen acts of illegal activity, violence, San Francisco Municipal Code violations, and Health and Safety violations." They charge that the city continues to issue permits to the race organizers with full knowledge of the mayhem that has resulted the last several years.
In an introductory message to Newsom, Jarie Bolander, President of the North of the Panhandle Neighborhood Association (NOPNA), asked for leadership from the Mayor to end the "epidemic of defacing public and private property, harassing neighbors and using homes as urinals." He added that several other organizations have already reached out to the neighborhood collective, including AEG and Save the Bay to Breakers, to plan a safer celebration. Bolander concluded, "We all want to see the centennial Bay to Breakers celebrate our uniqueness and not our sleaziness."
Along with NOPNA, the other organizations seeking mayoral leadership and citywide involvement in the B2B solution represent the most influential neighborhood groups of the inner west side:
- Alamo Square Neighborhood Association
- Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association
- Lower Haight Merchants and Neighbors Association
- Haight Ashbury Improvement Association
- Divisadero Merchants Association
In the group's letter to the mayor -- with copies to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and the full Board of Supervisors -- the neighborhood leaders assert their broad reach. "We represent tens of thousands of constituents, hundreds of small businesses, and many of the city's most prominent historic streets and homes, spanning over 100 city blocks."
The associations cite the relevant state and city codes that govern public nuisances, including public urination, that are flaunted every year after the footrace has concluded. By granting permits each year to the race organizers -- with full knowledge of the previous years' experience -- the city, in effect, is allowing the illegal behavior.
But the neighborhood groups make it clear their primary concerns are with the violence that holds residents hostage. They have no complaint with the "lively, boisterous, and uniquely San Francisco event." Their concern is with the "growing presence of drunk, angry, and disrespectful participants who think nothing of threatening elderly folks, urinating, defecating, and fighting in the streets." They also cite "countless reports" of residents being threatened and "mobs verbally attacking residents, children being screamed at, women afraid to venture outdoors, and individuals breaking into yards and side entrances." They conclude, "We will not allow 'business as usual' and wait for a resident or participants to get seriously injured." Their concerns reflect sentiments also expressed during last month's NOPNA meeting, reported here, as neighbors described the mayhem as "combustible" with "a spark to violence just waiting to happen."
The neighborhood associations wish to partner with the city, race organizers, sponsors and participants. They hope to get the race back to its roots and prevent the "intolerable behavior" that has become a dangerous part of its reputation. The groups seek a meeting with the mayor "within the next few weeks."
Note: Read the letter (pdf document) to the Mayor and Board of Supervisors. NOPNA's Bolander also attached to his email message to the mayor, a summary of a survey of North Panhandle residents with their reactions to this year's Bay to Breakers.
Check the other B2B at 100 articles here.