A Board of Supervisors committee approved a ban on glass containers in city parks this week but resigned proposed $1,000 fines for littering in Dolores Park.
In May, District Eight supervisor Jeff Sheehy griped, “Littering in City parks is unlawful but it remains a problem, especially at Dolores Park.”
He cited a single day in April that produced 460 bags worth of garbage. “This is not an isolated example,” he added.
Littering fines start at $100 and increase as high as $500 for repeat offenders. This has not proven to be an effective deterrent for park goers.
Previously Sheehy suggested playing hardball by authorizing Recreation and Parks to increase the sum upward of $1,000. However, on Wednesday the supervisor opened up discussion by immediately retiring the fees portion of the proposed law, at least for now.
“For now we’re here for a discussion about glass containers,” said Sheehy, referring to a second part of the bill that would ban glass bottles from parks.
City lawmakers expressed concern about how hefty fines would affect low-income residents stuck with a ticket. “We had a very robust discussion about equity,” said Sheehy.
“We have homeless people living in our parks and there’s some concern whether this could be used as a form of harassment,” said District One supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer.
The supes framed the glass ban as a safety consideration, noting that children, pets, and park workers could be danger from glass shards hidden in tall grass or sand.
“My father-in-law was a lifelong city gardener, so I know [those risks],” said Fewer.
The supervisors admitted that the ban might also create awkward situations, such as the inability to bring wine bottles into the Stern Grove Festival, and speculated that perhaps some sanctioned exceptions could be made.
The glass ban will move on to the full board for approval. The proposed fines are going back to the drawing board and may, like so many tall boy cans in Dolores Park, ultimately be discarded.