Celebrations for the cannabis community’s high holiday will be absent from San Francisco’s “Hippie Hill” this year after the city’s mayor declared the area off-limits for 4/20. Mayor London Breed announced the April 20 closure of the area of Golden Gate Park also known as Robin Williams Meadow at a news conference on Monday.
For decades, Hippie Hill has been the site of the city’s largest 4/20 celebration. Each year’s event draws thousands of revelers from the greater San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, who gather to smoke out and celebrate all things cannabis. Although not an officially sanctioned event, city government and police have allowed some minor infractions of the law, including smoking marijuana in public, to occur without challenge. But that won’t be the case this year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.
“I want to be clear with people who come to San Francisco on 4/20 to Robin Williams Meadow to celebrate 4/20,” Breed said. “Do not come to San Francisco on 4/20. We will not allow this unsanctioned event to occur this year, especially at the height of a pandemic.”
Due to the city’s stay-at-home order and a ban on large gatherings issued to help contain the spread of the virus, the organizers of the Hippie Hill 420 festival, which drew an estimated 19,000 people last year, announced in March that this year’s event would not go on as planned.
“We take the health and safety of the public, our staff, vendors and sponsors very seriously,” the organizers wrote on their website in announcing the cancellation. “We feel it’s all of our responsibility to do our part to minimize social gathering and potential spread of this virus in the community.”
Violators Risk Arrest
To prevent unauthorized celebrations at Hippie Hill, the area will be fenced off by the city on April 20. Police will be setting up roadblocks to prevent people from entering the park and those who congregate in the area risk citation or arrest.
But city officials are also concerned that impromptu celebrations will pop up around San Francisco because of cancellation of the Hippie Hill 4/20 festival, motivating Breed to issue a stern warning to anyone considering the idea.
“We will not tolerate anyone coming to San Francisco for 4/20 this year,” she said.
“I just want to say for your own health and safety, please do not come,” the mayor added. “Please do not come. Please do not try and identify another location. It is not safe for us to gather in large groups of people, especially during a pandemic, because the consequences could be deadly.”
San Francisco’s ban on public gatherings of more than 100 people is officially in effect until May 1, although it and the city’s stay-at-home order are likely to be extended. As of Wednesday, California has recorded 25,779 cases of coronavirus infection and 790 deaths related to the virus.