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Too Many People in the Mission Drinking to Do Much About It, Police Say

En Español.

People drink at the corner of 22nd and Bartlett every day, but last Friday at 7:50 p.m. the drinking ended with a 21-year-old man being stabbed in the back multiple times, police said.

The alcohol-fueled aggravated assault is one of many that occur every week in the Mission, a neighborhood popular for its bars and its tolerance for public drinking.

Even though these kinds of incidents are common, there’s little police can do to thwart them, said SFPD spokesman Albie Esparza.

“There are too many people drinking in the Mission for police to spend their time dealing with them,” Esparza said.

Esparza explained that police will arrest and ticket for drinking, but they often have to deal with more serious incidents, like robberies and assaults.

Police enter the scene when public drinking escalates into violence or when someone calls the police to make a complaint about noise or other unruly behavior. 

This happens most often on Mission and 16th Street, Bartlett and 21st, and Shotwell.

Friday’s incident was a case in which people were drinking as they do on any other day, but then a fight began and quickly escalated. The victim had to be taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police arrested two suspects in the case.

In another recent incident, a man was attacked in his sleep in Lilac Alley off 24th Street. That assault happened on a corner known for public drinking.

The Mission’s drinking culture leaves police in a quandary because it is difficult to monitor and prevent public drinking when so much goes on. “These are adults drinking,” said Esparza. “In Dolores Park we would spend all our time giving citations.”

Besides, “people hide their alcohol when they see police,” he continued.

At places where large crowds gather on the weekends, police can’t ask everyone who is drinking to leave — only those who are obviously intoxicated or making excessive noise, Esparza said.

Errors were made in the editing of this piece. They they have been corrected.

  1. Those guys are there drinking at 22nd and Bartlett EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. The cops can’t do a quick drive by once or twice a day to discourage it? Really? I live on 22nd, and I’ve felt threatened walking past those dudes a number of times. They suck, to put it succinctly.

    • I live at 22nd and Florida. Public drunkenness is a fact of life. We have two market that are licensed to sell alcohol not one bock from each other.
      Don’t feel like patronizing Jefferson Market? Jest toddle down the street to Kings Market.
      Why does the Mission have to be ground zero for drinking and all the crappy behavior that goes with it? I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 20 years and if anything it’s gotten worse.

      I’m invested in the idea of “livability” and in that description, I’d include a critical perspective on alcohol. I think it skews a neighborhood to one mode: alcohol-fueled gregariousness…feels like I’m living in a frat house sometimes.
      And, also, yeah- more crime. Alcohol can create such a monoculture.

  2. The Mission’s drinking culture leaves police in a quandary.
    Gee if you live in the Mission that’s your Culture?

  3. I don’t care about public drinking — and at 2am i expect and accept drunken craziness. it’s chronic public drunkenness and the threatening unsocial behavior of some of these regular crowds that’s the problem. but family hours, say 7am-7/8pm, let’s keep the streets pleasant and open for all.

    the park at 21st and shotwell is all day every day ringed by 10 or so guys whop are a fricken mess, and are threatening to everyone who walks by. the police should stop something worse from happening by breaking up the standing groups and trouble spots.

    -matt

  4. It’s not a fix-all, but if there are particular liquor stores involved, there are two things you can do. First, file a complaint that the store is violating SF’s “Deemed Approved” ordinance. Basically, the store is required to combq loitering and nuisance in the immediate vicinity. I don’t recall off the top of my head how to file a complaint, but 311 is always a great place to start.

    Second, liquor stores are already forbidden to sell to people who are already very drunk. It’s in the terms of their license. You can file a complaint with the California ABC, and you should recall from last year’s installment of the War On Fun that 1) the ABC loves cracking down and 2) license holders are scared to death of the ABC.

  5. “Too Many People in the Mission Drinking to Do Much About It”

    What else should we learn to live with? Substitute a few words for the word “drinking” and lt’s see.

    armed robbery
    assault
    rape
    murder

    Iknow that they are “only drinking” but this is the behavior that generally leads to other types of crime.

    I have a strange suspicion if these bums were hanging out and drinking in other, more upscale areas of the city, it would not be allowed to continue. As long as it is condoned in the mission the problem will only continue to grow.

    • I AGREE WITH YOU ONE HUNDRED PERCENT, IF PUBLIC INTOXICATION WAS HAPPENING IN THE AVENUES OR GOD FORBID, SAINT FRANCIS WOODS, THE COPS WOULD BE ALL OVER IT AND LIQUOR STORES WOULD GET SHUT DOWN, BUT, SINCE ITS THE MISSION, WHO GIVES A F ABOUT IT, BEFORE IT WAS ONLY LIQUOR STORES AND DIVE BARS, NOW ITS THESE YUPPIE CLUBS, IM A CITY BOY MISSION DISTRICT BORN AND RAISED RESIDENT, THIS IS NOTHING NEW, HIT THE “BETTER” NEIGHBORHOODS OF THE CITY, SEE HOW MANY LIQUOR STORES AND BARS, EXCUSE ME, PUBS ARE AROUND, GENTRIFICATION, I SEE YOU PEEKING YOUR UGLY HEAD, LMAO.

  6. Its groups of alcoholics that are constantly inebriated, frequently homeless, and mostly mexican (in the mission that is. in the haight its a more multicultural assortment of addicts)….

    What can you? Every town has the “town drunk.” We are 850,000 people so we have whole communities of drunks…. You can’t solve it. You just have to kind of tolerate it….

  7. i went to work and told my boss “boss, there’s just too much work and however much of it i do, there’s always more to do, so i’ve decided to not to do any of it any more.”

    surprisingly he was fine with that.

  8. Love that the po-po have no problem issuing citations to harmless folks in Dolores Park.

    Meanwhile all the homeless,unemployed, threatening guys drink on the sidewalk all day with no harassment.

      • It’s because the people in Dolores actually tend to pay their citations and it’s less of a safety risk. Drunk hipster in dolores is easier, more lucrative, and more likely not to repeat offend then a drunken hobo at 16th and mission.

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  10. “the Mission, a neighborhood popular for its bars and its tolerance for public drinking” WRONG! We are not tolerant of public drinking, it’s just that the people that do it AND cause problems are often- violent, too drunk to have a rational discussion with or, more often than not, hang around in groups so one person standing up to them isn’t a good idea. I see the same drunks loitering around Isaacs Market at 22nd and Folsom as well as the park at 21st and Folsom. Police should chase these people off and allow the park to be frequented by kids. It’s good to know where I can report Isaacs Market to as I see them selling to people already wasted as well as selling single cigarettes and swishers to the local high school kids.

    • I live at 16th and Capp, and I do, on some level, see why the don’t enforce it here. No one will pay their fines if issued, there may be violence caused by issuing them, the will keep coming back or be replaced by another drunk.. etc. You would need to roll in the SWAT team to clear out all the drunks at the BART station, and new ones would fill their shoes the next. It’s just something you have to accept – been that way for the 12 years I’ve been here.

  11. Those 22nd and BARTLETT guys have been there FOR YEARS. The guy with the boombox used to hang at 23rd and Valencia, maybe be still does.

    They are there every single day of the week. Where do they live? They seem to be supported somehow, they have nice clothes and boombox dude always has his tunes.