4/20 Debrief: How the First Year With a Neighborhood Sponsor Went

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Dave Groeschel interviews Alex Aquino, HANC Board members

We asked Dave Groeschel, owner of Mom’s Tattoo (1408 Haight) to interview Alex Aquino, owner of Black Scale (1409 Haight). Here is the debrief he shared with us.

     I sat down with Alex Aquino, the owner of Black Scale on Haight Street, this morning to talk about how the 4/20 event went.  Alex put together a group of local sponsors, including Diamond Supply (1560 Haight), Cookie’s (1429 Haight), and Black Scale and some not so local ones like High Times magazine to raise $145,000 so the event would have security, clean-up, medical services, portable toilets and more.  


     Alex talked about the importance of having a sound system that they could control.  It allowed them to play a wide range of music, mostly reggae. Bob Marley’s “Jammin” went off at 4:20pm, but the music also included everything from Stevie Wonder to Led Zeppelin.  The sound system also meant that they could give reminders to the crowd all day to pick up their trash and respect the park.  The event area itself was completely clean before sundown and the recycling plan, first time they’ve had one, was completed by about 10:30 pm.

     The music had everyone feeling pretty mellow and there was no violence at the event.  That is a big plus as there have been all kinds of things that happened in years past.  There was also a ban on glass, weapons, and barbeque pits.  

     Alex said that in addition to banners for the sponsors, staging, and sound system they had two ambulances with EMT crews on site, licensed bonded security, 200 portable toilets, and a park cleanup crew as well as hiring the Upper Haight’s own Takin it to the Streets to take care of cleaning the Haight Street corridor and keeping an eye on the 30 toilets in the Haight.  Christian from T2S said that they had over 400 bags of trash that they picked up and that the toilets were definitely being used.  He also said that the next day was just the normal amount of trash was cleaned up on the street.

     Only approved vendors were allowed into the event.  There was pushback from some vendors who came to sell without approval and no permit--that’s right the event and all the food vendors were permitted which is another first--who weren't happy that they couldn’t get inside to sell their stuff.  They tried to set up on Stanyan but SFPD made them move.

     A resident, who overheard our conversation, came over to where we were sitting and told us how grateful everyone was that Alex had gotten sponsorship for the event and what a huge difference it made.  His only suggestion was to have Traffic Control officers at Haight and Stanyan to keep traffic from backing up on Haight Street.

     Before the event, when people were learning about the changes being made this year, there was talk about how this was ruining the event and how it was supposed to be a celebration without rules, but it seemed like everybody there was having a great time and, as Alex said,  “for the first time everyone felt safe.”  I believe we need more of this working together attitude in our neighborhood.  I think this is on the right track.

Hats off to Alex and all the others for a great job.  

Editor’s Note: If you have suggestions related to 4/20 in 2018 which falls on a Friday, or in 2019 which falls on a Saturday, please send us your input. In addition to suggestions for improving ride share drop off / pick up, parking & traffic management and helicopter noise issues, what would you like to see changed?


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