The Coastal Post - August 1999

Bolinas 4th Of July-Too Much Of A Good Thing

By Don Deane

The Fourth of July in Bolinas rolled through like thunder this year causing a little more consternation than usual. The red, white and blue holiday saw the town fill up with guests, visitors and first-timers dangerously clogging streets with parked cars during the long weekend. Evening hours were punctuated with an abundance of party revelers and drunks in the streets and on the beach disrupting the normal tranquillity of the small town. Garbage, beer bottles and other evidence of the holiday bash were all too evident throughout the downtown on Monday morning, the 5th, although many locals and visitors worked to get garbage picked up by midday.

The long weekend and beautiful weather conspired to make the 4th of July celebration too well attended. Overflow parking at Mesa Park and other locations simply allowed more people to cram into the town to watch the parade, eat barbecue, go to the beach and dance in the evenings.

Two meetings took place a week after the holiday allowing residents to discuss steps which could be taken next year to tone the celebration down. Eighty people came together at the Community Center at the behest of Cypress with the dialogue moderated by Myan Baker. Suggestions ranged from canceling the event for a couple of years to cool it off, to moving the parade and celebration up to Mesa Park with the parade down Elm St. More moderate suggestions including additional presence by the sheriff's department, limiting access to town when parking spaces ran out, having a tow truck available to haul cars away, not having a dance the night before, shutting down liquor sales after 4 p.m., and taking beer and liquor away from minors.

Concerns raised by attendees included: Dangerous fireworks and explosive devices being set off in the streets, too many drunks, illegally parked cars which blocked key streets for fire truck and ambulance access, insufficient number of portable toilets, not enough dumpsters for garbage, virtually no sheriff's deputies in town (one was seen in the morning and one was rumored to be in town in the afternoon). A spat of fights between juveniles occurred late on the eve of the Fourth with the sheriff's department responding in force, but the crowd of 80 or so young people dispersed themselves before any action was taken by law enforcement.

A second meeting was called by the Lion's Club at the Rod and Boat club later the same week with merchants, residents of Brighton Ave. and Wharf Rd., members of the Bolinas Community Center Board and the sheriff's department. Many of the same concerns and suggestions were made at this meeting with the sheriff's representatives saying there would be more presence next year. Some at the meeting said sunny weekends brought ongoing problems to the town because of beach goers and party animals. A suggestion was made that establishing an organization similar to the Stinson Beach Village Association might be a good step to take to provide both a forum for issues and an entity which could get the attention of the county and townspeople to move towards solution for problems. A suggestion was also made that the establishment of a local parking authority with ticket giving and towing authority might reduce parking problems and bring revenue to the community.

Community Center representatives announced there would be meeting preceding the annual Labor Day celebration in September to plan for and marshal resources so that that holiday doesn't have some of the same problems as this year's Fourth Of July.

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