Can Fun police itself?


By Steven T. Jones

Yesterday’s Bring Your Own Big Wheel event showed how a weird, community-based event that draws thousands of people and even has a real element of danger can be remarkably responsible, well-organized, and self-policing, without any help from police or other city officials, who mostly stayed at bay until the event was over.

Nonetheless, as the Examiner reports today (joining the Guardian’s years-long campaign against the Death of Fun), city officials continue to insist on expensive permits and the hiring of too many police officers on overtime for most events, making it increasingly difficult to stage the fun that makes San Francisco what it is.

The next big test is whether the Mayor’s Office can get the SFPD to back off of its demand that the How Weird Street Faire pay almost $10,000 up front. While senior mayoral adviser Mike Farrah has gotten involved with mediating the dispute, the latest word from the SFPD is they want their money by May 1 or else. Organizers say they won’t have the money until the day of the May 10 event when they collect donations.

As Lt. Nicole Greely wrote to How Weird organizer Brad Olsen just this morning, “Although we appreciate your position, it would be unwise for the SFPD to risk public money by not collecting the required fees prior to the event. If the event is the only way your group is able to pay for police services, we are all betting that the event will be as successful as you hope. However, a rainy day or other unforeseen problem would mean that you would be unable to fulfill your financial obligation and that is an inappropriate risk for a City agency. Possibly seeking a loan from another source would be an option.”