No curfew, etc.
Reports of late-night vandalism and intoxication after August’s Second Saturday arts celebration in Midtown have led to calls for a crackdown. Police then promised to enforce the 10 p.m. curfew for those under 18 years old, to keep 20th Street open from J to K Streets, and to force street vendors to get permits and spread out.
We’ll tell you now: Those are solutions to problems that don’t exist.
The worst offenses last Second Saturday—vandalism and drunkenness, with the concomitant public vomiting and urination—didn’t happen at 10 p.m., and they didn’t happen at midnight. They happened at closing time when the bars emptied out, just like it always does in the early hours of Sunday morning, albeit in somewhat larger numbers than a typical weekend. And lest the powers that be forget, that street closure had a fantastic traffic-calming effect, reducing the likelihood of pedestrians being injured by cars trying to make their way through a very crowded area.
These proposed solutions assume that the crowds and excitement of Second Saturday are the cause of the problems. It’s an incorrect assumption. The neighborhood difficulties are caused by the party that follows Second Saturday—the people who hang out in clubs, bars and at private parties long after the event is over, and then leave drunk.
One thing that would make a difference? More police presence. Last month, Sacramento Police had 20 officers at an event that pulled an estimated 17,000 people into Midtown. That’s probably all the police presence that’s necessary for the event itself—but the wee early hours of the morning, when the bars empty and the drunks leave private parties, is when the streets need to be flooded with cops.
The current proposed solutions will only tamp down an event that runs pretty smoothly, all things considered. The city should instead be addressing the irresponsible alcohol use after Second Saturday that makes for an ugly Sunday morning.