With fun at risk, Citizens for the Preservation of Bay2Breakers contribute potties, cleanup crew to help keep race in hand. City, Mega-sized corporate fun machine are thankless.
The Citizens for the Preservation of Bay2Breakers are no mere unruly pack of wild revelers, group frontman Ed Sharpless would have you know.
Since February — when Bay to Breakers owner/sponsor Anschutz Entertainment Group and insurance giant ING announced a strict new set of zero-tolerance rules, in the wake of last year’s mess — the group, which includes “doctors, lawyers, CEOS… people who deliver babies” and entrepreneur Sharpless have tirelessly counterattacked against what they call “a war on fun” with (and this might surprise some people) fundraising, organization, and a clarion call for overall responsibility.
Their adult reaction culminated Thursday in a contribution to AEG/ING: forty extra portable toilets donated to the race (after AEG/ING balked at adding more to the pee-soaked Panhandle and Alamo Square portions of the race route), and the hiring of a 25-person clean-up crew, who will follow in racers’ and partiers’ wakes Sunday and begin mopping up as soon as they pass through.
The group decided to take matters into their own hands after – despite political persuasion from District 5 Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi — cleanup plans were not beefed up from last year’s levels (when DPW crews picked up an estimated 35 tons of trash) and race sponsors added a mere 250 extra portable toilets – far too few in the highly sensitive residential areas, in the view of the group, who donated the extra toilets solely on the condition that they be placed in the Hayes/Divisadero/Fell streets problem area. To clean up all the discarded cans and plastic bottles, the group contacted local employment agencies, who provided them with the 25 out-of-work Bay Area residents who will comprise the clean-up crew.
Rather than highlight such level-headed responses from its racing constituency, AEG/ING has done “basically nothing” in response, Sharpless said.
And that despite Citizens to Preserve B2B has actually made AEG/ING money: “tens of thousands” of dollars of registrations, including $5,000 worth during a 24-hour window in which registrants could get a discount. Sharpless asked for more time but only got a day from ING _ and therein lies the problem.
Sharpless thinks that race sponsors have a vested interest in this year’s running goes haywire: if it does, it’ll be easier to scale back the grand old race into little more than a civilized competitive footrace and a parade. Think Easter: think Hunky Jesus/Bring your Own Big Wheel versus Union Street Easter Parade/brunch with your in-laws. Is such the future of fun in San Francisco? Sharpless hopes not, hence the toilets and cleanup crew.
“This is the beginning of the death of fun in San Francisco,” said Sharpless, who said that Bay to Breakers’ sanitization is just the latest in a domino effect of party poopings that began with Halloween in the Castro. “I’m one thousand percent sure of that.”