City Girds For 4-20 Dopefest – April 15, 2010

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

ARCATA – With the annual 4-20 mass marijuana gathering in Redwood Park looming next Tuesday, the City is taking steps to reduce impacts and preserve public safety.

The April 20 celebration of all things cannabis has grown year by year in Redwood Park, and has come to attract thousands of participants. No one organizes the event, and no organization applies for any permit, rents porta-potties or hires security. And though attendees are generally peaceable, the potential for public safety problems is a concern to the City, given that along with the pacifying pot which is consumed, alcohol is also imbibed.

The event coincides with an increase in petty crime such as shoplifting in town, and other infractions generally ramp up during and after the gathering, according to City Manager Randy Mendosa.

“The problems for the City include adverse environmental impacts to Redwood Park and the Community Forest; garbage; clogged streets from excessive numbers of people, dogs and vehicles; alcohol violations and “non-Prop 215” criminal drug offenses; and complaints about frequent disturbances to neighboring residents,” Mendosa said.  “If the weather is good, it is possible that several thousand people could show up. The City of Arcata is being forced to spend thousands of precious taxpayer dollars to deal with what has basically become a very ‘big party.’”

Anticipating potential problems, Mendosa is beefing up police staffing for the big day and will do some traffic control as well.

To accommodate emergency vehicle access, the north and south access roads to Redwood Park from 14th Street and 11th and Bayview streets will be closed to vehicular traffic.

Though the nominal restroom facilities in the Redwood Lodge will be overtaxed and completely inadequate, the City isn’t taking any initiative to add on any extra sanitation facilities.

That, Mendosa said, is because of liability issues.”

“Arcata is part of a self insured pool of governmental agencies,” he said. “We simply can’t risk our insurance coverage by providing additional resources, amenities or assume any risk or  responsibility for a non sanctioned, uninsured event.  This is why organizers for legitimate events are required to get Special Activity Permits which includes insurance coverage to protect the City from exposure to costly civil liability.”

While it never asked for or promoted the dope-soaked event and associated challenges, Arcata has become irrecovably associated with the annual gathering, and has foundered in coming up with a solution to abate it.

Suggestions aired during public meetings have included scheduling a noisy – but probably unneeded – Public Works project in the park that day, or explicitly warning people away.

Those efforts would likely be counterproductive, since talking about 4-20 in any context only spreads the word for those who would be attracted to such an event.

“A key challenge for the City is to try and avoid responses that would exacerbate the problem, such as attracting heightened attention from the national news media and Internet blogs which could draw even larger crowds of people and problems,” Mendosa said.

For now, Mendosa said, the best way to minimize impacts is to not participate.

“I want to suggest that the best way for people to help protect the environment and precious City resources is to just stay away from Redwood Park on April 20.”


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  1. mamasstash said:

    Happy 420 everyone! Hope to see you at the park rain or shine!

    To S.B.,

    Intelligent, well informed adults can clearly see the ignorance behind your logic (comparing Cannabis to arsenic). I suggest you learn more about Cannabis and the people who use it. Chances are that someone you know already needs/uses it (or will in the future). I hope you pray everyday that you are never afflicted with anything in which Cannabis is your ONLY alternative to alieviate your suffering. Perhaps if you were/are, you might consider changing your point of view. Lack of compasion is one of the worst crimes that people commit on a daily basis without remorse. If you are intersted in learing more about Cannabis and those who use it, check out the websites for NORML, MPP, or ASA.

    Stop hating yout fellow human being, just because you don’t agree with their lifestyle choices.

    God bless us all.

  2. Auslander said:

    This is precisely the kind of sad, limited mentality that keeps Arcata from realizing its potential as a community and perpetuates the economic malaise that’s been creeping over this part of the world since the beginning of the end of the lumber industry.

    The fact is that Arcata is known for marijuana. This is not something from which Arcatans should flee. Instead, they should be happy that they have national recognition for *anything*. Most small towns in America will have what makes Arcata unique– the idea should not be to bulldoze this difference, but rather to celebrate it (and for those of us who plan on surviving, market and sell it as the valuable commodity which it is).

    Instead of bemoaning the cost of cleaning up an event like this, Arcata’s city government should form an exploratory committee tasked with researching ways to capitalize on the popularity of the event. As a previous poster mentioned, there are always rewards to be reaped from an influx of patrons into the local community. Marijuana users are most certainly NOT all pick-pockets (unless you think a third of this country–the number which admits to semi-regular use, almost certainly fewer than the actual number of users–are criminals and thieves).

    This is a new era. Arcata should work to show us how Marijuana can be a powerful, sustainable, low-cost cash-crop to help revive the California economy while providing a powerful panacea for millions of people in need of medical care instead of demonizing that for which it has come to be inextricably known.

  3. Rover said:

    “Mendosa said the city cannot provide additional facilities, because it could make them responsible for accidents at the event”

    I’m guessing since the city allows this event to take place at Redwood Park, knowing full well the cause and effect of such an event that any liability issues would still rest squarely on the shoulders of the City of Arcata.

    “access roads to the park will be closed to vehicles on Tuesday to address public safety concerns.”

    The closing of the entrances at 14th St. & 11th-Bayview does nothing to solve the problem, this action simply moves the issues to other parts of the neighborhood and is left for those residents to contend with.

  4. Kat said:

    Guys…stop sounding like middle schoolers…..We need to work together to have a nice peacful time in the redwoods, clean up our trash, and stop talking and sounding like drug dealers. You need to start spreading the good word of prop 215 in an intelegent way. You wonder why they discriminate against visitors this time of year.. Arcata have no fear! We are coming and we will be good. Not all marijuana users are druggies and shoplifters. Think about the profits you guys make in town from boosts in hotels and retail stores. See you then!

  5. kevpod said:

    Then why are the cops always pulling guns and pit bulls out of the grow houses?

  6. chongII said:

    So you’re suggesting that people who consume and smoke marijuana for ailments and disabilities should consume arsenic? Wow,so basically people involved in pot should die? Where’s all the hatred coming from, we’re people just like you.

  7. S.B. said:

    God also gave us arsenic; I suggest that you consume some of that.

  8. ChongII said:

    420 Fest will EVER die, it’s only gonna get bigger and bigger every year, let the stoners have their day, it’s basically a Worldwide holiday, especially for Humboldt County, gonna try and arrest EVERYBODY smoking pot, even your city officials smoke!!!

    Dope, is white by the way and is called meth,crack,or heroine get your facts straight, God gave us Marijuana for a reason

  9. Greg's Mom's husband said:

    I never told your mother, but I’m sterile. That’s why you were an only child. Well, that and the fact that one look at you and your mother had her tubes tied, which is how I kept my secret. I guess your actual Y chromosome donor was even more dain-bramaged than I am/was.
    PS, the neighbor’s cat misses you. He wishes you’d write.

  10. Greg Kinnears Mother said:

    Greg maybe it’s time you come up out of our basement for some fresh air. I’m worried you haven’t been taking the pills the doctor prescribed to sooth your psychotic rage. Your Father and I are concerned you might have another outburst and rape the neighbors cat again. We understand that your a 140 pounds of fury and since you got that dragon tattoo on your lower back your extra “hard” now, but leave the poor man alone and let him do his job. He’s letting people know about the situation at the park and how bad it can be when people don’t respect the land. Your father and i conceived you there on 420 so we know how disrespectful some people can be. Go to sleep now honey, there will be a fresh can of paint for you to huff tomorrow in the garage.

  11. Greg Kinnear said:

    “Dopefest?” Really, you little faggot? I bet you don’t show up to do any “reporting,” coz if you do, I get to point your ugly-ass face out (ya know, the one you could grate cheese on!!) to all the down-ass growers whose illegal pot fuels the local economy, then maybe we’ll all just stomp the fuck out of you! I spoke with my friend, Tenerous, and she told me all about the bullshit at your office. You’re a fucking pussy, and next time I bump into you, we’re gonna have words and maybe more. Bitch.

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