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Glass ban at San Francisco parks heads to vote

A proposal that would have allowed San Francisco park rangers to issue citations of up to $1,000 for littering and dumping waste at Dolores Park is now on hold.

Instead, city supervisors on the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee on Wednesday approved a portion of the proposed legislation, which includes a ban on glass beverage containers at all public parks.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who proposed the litter fine legislation at Dolores Park, said he will consider other penalties such as community service, especially now that The City has setup a Fines and Fees Task Force, which made recommendations to city officials on reducing fines for low-income residents.

Under his initial proposal, those cited for littering at Dolores Park would pay an administrative citation of up to $1,000 instead of having to go to court. The general manager of the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department would have determined the fine.

Without that Dolores Park littering portion of the proposed legislation, littering at Dolores Park will still fall under the park code enforcement and penalties, which state that violators will be guilty of either of an infraction or misdemeanor, according to the park code.

The District Attorney’s Office would determine if the violation is an infraction or misdemeanor.

Per the park code under the penalties section:

“Upon conviction of a violation charged as an infraction, the person so convicted shall be punished for the first offense by a fine of not more than $100, and for a second offense within one year by a fine of not more than $200, and for each additional offense within one year by a fine of not more than $500.”

Sheehy said it was important for the glass ban portion of the legislation to move forward because of how dangerous broken glass is for park workers, visitors, children and pets:

“When glass breaks, it’s extremely dangerous especially in areas with sand playgrounds.”

Rec and Park spokesperson Sarah Madland said the department had received 107 requests from 311 to clean up glass at city parks so far this year.

Madland said if the board approves the glass container ban, the department will do a “robust” education outreach for the first six months after the legislation becomes law before citing park patrons.

The outreach will include improving park signage, training park rangers around engagement, and having rangers pass out fliers out to park goers about the new law.

While some parks in The City already have signage prohibiting glass containers, Madland said Sheehy’s proposed legislation would formalize the ban to include it in the park code.

Supervisor Sandra Fewer said enforcement will play key role in keeping glass out of the parks.

Fewer also asked if the Beach Chalet, on the western edge Golden Gate Park, which does provide wine and beer in glasses, be part of the ban. The answer from the department was no.

The department has agreements with concessionaires that offer an exemption to allow the use of glass beverage containers.

For larger events such as Outside Lands and the upcoming Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Madland said it requires organizers to have a cleanup plan, and that any permittee or concessionaire is still legally responsible to clean up their permitted area.

Concert goers at Outside Lands were not allowed to bring glass of any kind into the event. Glass containers will also not be allowed at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen asked if wine bottles would be allowed into Stern Grove under the proposed legislation, and the answer was no.

The full Board of Supervisors will take up the proposed glass beverage container ban next Tuesday.

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