San Francisco Examiner Staff Report
February 27, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO – It’s settled. There will be a 7.46-mile run, some colorful floats, but a ban on booze at the 98th annual ING Bay to Breakers race on May 17, according to a compromise detailed in a statement released by the Mayor’s Office on Friday.
Some community members and city officials had asked race organizers to ease new restrictions announced Feb. 11 banning alcohol, nudity and floats along the course. Last year, excessive partying infuriated residents living along the race’s path.
Today, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s staff, race organizers and others met to hash out the details of a compromise that allows for floats in the race, but still bans alcohol. Any “wheeled objects and float owners must register at the starting line behind all runners and walkers,” and the devices cannot be motorized or used to store or transport alcohol, the Mayor’s Office said. Whoever owns a float is encouraged to dispose of it in Dumpsters along the route near the end of the race, it said.
Police will proactively enforce the alcohol ban, the regulations say.
“We believe we have achieved a win-win for The City,” said Newsom in the statement. He said the event would retain the “fun” aspects that have contributed to its colorful history, without compromising safety.
Last year, residents complained about widespread public urination and litter resulting from Bay to Breakers. The complaints helped convince organizers to create new rules. There was a need “to try and figure out a way to vastly reduce alcohol consumption,” said event spokesman Sam Singer.
“Targeting people who have glass bottles who can hurt themselves or harm others is absolutely essential,” Singer said.
The new rules, however, created a backlash from community members and city officials, who said they went too far. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and Newsom staffers were among those who discussed relaxing them.
A local group also formed to fight the strict rules, calling themselves the Citizens for the Preservation of Bay2Breakers.
The event is held on the third Sunday in May. AEG, organizer of Bay to Breakers, shares the same owners as Clarity Media, which oversees The Examiner.