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Dolores Park Hill Bomb rolls on despite police presence: ‘This is so San Francisco’

A man skateboards down a street, crouching low with a playful expression, while holding a phone up. A crowd of onlookers, many taking photos, lines both sides of the street.
Mark Urbieta careens down Church Street as part of the unsanctioned Dolores Park Hill Bomb on Saturday. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard

San Francisco police almost managed to defuse the Dolores Park Hill Bomb—until a few dozen rogue skaters pulled off a scaled-back version by careening down a slope just a block away.

One hill-bomber who defied police by participating in the illegal event Saturday narrowly avoided a car turning right onto the Church Street side of the park as the crowd cheered his high-speed descent. 

Another fell just as he made it to the bottom of the hill but quickly snapped upright and motioned to the crowd that he was OK, prompting thunderous applause from onlookers. 

Skateboarder Mark Urbieta, who identified himself as “Shark,” rushed down Church in an N-95 mask. 

“That shit felt great,” he exclaimed as he trudged back uphill.

Though SFPD pulled out all the stops to prevent the event, hosting a press conference a day prior and stationing officers around the park hours beforehand, they proved markedly more restrained than last year. 

When skaters finally dared to bomb away Saturday evening in front of a couple-hundred onlookers, scores of cops simply looked on. Some snapped pictures.

Compared to the chaos of the hill bomb in 2023—when cops kettled riotous crowds and arrested people en masse—it started out as a kinder, gentler hill bomb. 

A cyclist, airborne on a bicycle, is performing a stunt on a street lined with spectators capturing the moment with their phones. The background features trees and clear skies.
A biker joined the lineup of rogue skaters. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard
A person in a black hoodie and pants is falling while skateboarding on a street, with a skateboard on the ground. A crowd of people gathers in the background.
A skater falls off his board, cutting short his fast-paced descent. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard
A group of young people, mostly in casual wear, is gathered outdoors. They appear excited, some clapping, others cheering, with a few holding cans and phones. Trees are in the background.
Hundreds of spectators cheer from the sidelines. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard

For some of the skaters, the show of restraint softened their view of authorities. 

“It was, ‘Fuck the city,’” Urbieta told The Standard. “We’re loving the city now—but I don’t know how long it will last.”

A few minutes later, he fell at the bottom of the hill, writhing in pain on the ground as bystanders and volunteer medics rushed to help.

“I’m good, I’m good I’m good I promise,” he said. “It happens. It’s a part of this life.” 

When a medic advised Urbieta not to skate the hill again, he responded, “Do you not know how skaters operate?”

Moments later he was speeding down the hill again. 

A skateboarder wearing a helmet and yellow shirt skates down a street, reaching for a dollar bill held out by a spectator. A crowd watches and a photographer kneels nearby.
A skater takes a dollar bill from an onlooker. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard
Three park rangers are arresting a person in a beanie and patterned scarf in front of a parked vehicle with a cage on the back.
San Francisco park rangers detain a man wearing a keffiyeh. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard
A person wearing a helmet rides a skateboard on a street, moving quickly past a blurred background of people and trees. The motion creates a dynamic, energetic feel.
As the evening wore on, skaters worked up the nerve to proceed with the event despite the formidable police presence. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard

Not everyone was so lucky.

As the sun began to set, a skateboarder fell into a curb at the bottom of the hill, rolling multiple times and hitting his head. A hushed silence fell over the crowd.

Then, as paramedics carried him away on a stretcher, the skater threw his arms, prompting raucous cheers.

A person is being loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher by paramedics in a city street, while a crowd of onlookers watches from the sidewalk.
A skater who took a spill at the bottom of Church Street gets wheeled into an ambulance. | Source: David Sjostedt/The Standard

‘Event Canceled’

A day ahead of the event, police held a press conference to warn skaters that they would be arrested if they tried to defy them.

An Instagram user who originally advertised the event, retracted their original post with an image that said the event was a no-go. 

“Event CANCELED!!! Police will be waiting at Dolores!!! Keep my name out of it!!! Stay away!!!” the updated post read. 

Officers began posting up on Dolores Street between 19th and 20th streets a couple hours before the expected start time. 

A man with long hair is lying on a skateboard, riding down the middle of a street surrounded by standing spectators. He appears to be enjoying the ride.
A skater brings an unconventional approach to the hill-bomb. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard
A skateboarder is performing a trick in the middle of a street filled with spectators on both sides. It's a sunny day with clear skies and a tall palm tree in the background.
Mark Urbieta careens down Church Street. | Source: David Sjostedt/The Standard

A couple of young skaters who said they were arrested at the unsanctioned event last year and declined to share their names told The Standard that they still planned to “bomb” the hill even with the barricades. 

For hours, it didn’t seem like they’d have a chance to pull it off—until they did.

While officers milled about with no crowds to control, residents in the area complained about the police presence.

Maria Pugliese, a dog walker in the neighborhood, said she was disgusted that the city allocated so many cops to the event while other crimes remain an issue.

A skater takes a spill at the bottom of Church Street. | Source: Courtesy

“They’re doing it at their own risk,” she said. “I don’t know what to tell you.”

“Why would they stop this but not the motorcycle gangs?” she went on to say, referring to groups of dirt-bike riders who often caravan through the Mission. “They could kill somebody, they’re running red lights every freakin’ weekend.”

Chloe, who lives near the park and declined to share her last name, said she doesn’t understand why the city doesn’t just sanction the event. 

A skateboarder rides down a street, reaching out to another person extending their hand. Onlookers and photographers line the sidewalks, capturing the action.
A skater goes for a high-five on his way down Church Street. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard

“I want a hill bomb that has medical support on hand,” she said. “They’re spending so much money to make it not happen, but it costs the same amount to make it happen.” 

Skateboarder Chris Long said he thought the city made the event less safe by installing bumps on the street to deter the would-be hill bombers.

“I’d be interested in participating if it was safe,” he said. “I’m disappointed to see this is how the city is handling things. … They had plenty of time to prepare.”

A man in a helmet rides an office chair down a street while a crowd of onlookers, some taking photos and videos, cheer him on from the roadside.
A man in an office chair rolls past hundreds of onlookers. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard

Aaron Breetwor, a Mission resident who also advocates for a sanctioned hill bomb, said he presented the city with a plan to host the event with just such safety precautions—but it was ignored.

He showed up to the park Saturday with about 20 helmets for people to use in case anyone skated. He was also advising skaters about how to talk to police if they get detained.

Meanwhile, several drivers expressed frustration over the road closures. 

“How am I supposed to get to my house?” one man yelled from his Lexus SUV.

As the afternoon wore on with no sign of a hill bomb, officers debated whether to reconvene at another spot.

Police officers in dark uniforms are standing near a barricade. One officer is holding a bundle of large white zip ties, while another officer bends down by the barricade.
San Francisco police use zip ties to fasten blockades in a zig-zag formation ahead of the event. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard
The image shows several police officers standing near metal barricades outdoors, possibly at an event. A parked blue car and trees are visible in the background.
Dolores Park was inundated with metal barricades. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard
A group of police officers stand on a sidewalk beside police vehicles, near a park with people sitting on grass. Palm trees and buildings are visible in the background.
SFPD officers descended on Dolores Park hours ahead of time to prevent the event. | Source: David Sjostedt/The Standard

“Boss man said barricade down to 18th Street,” one cop told a group of colleagues at 20th and Dolores streets.

“Is there another hill we should barricade?” another asked with a smile.

For a couple hours, a group of skaters took to skating the walkway in the middle of the park, which was partially blocked off by rangers and metal gates.

This, to the dismay of some skaters, at first seemed to be the extent of Saturday’s event.

At around 6:40 p.m., rangers completely blocked the skaters’ pathway, which prompted boos from onlookers and skaters alike.

“Somebody’s going to have to smack into that thing,” one skater yelled.

A person wearing a helmet and dark clothing is skateboarding rapidly on a street, with a blurred background indicating high speed.
A skater speeds down the hill to cheers from the crowds. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard
A person performs a wheelie on a mountain bike, wearing a helmet and protective gear, while a group of onlookers, some with cameras, watches and photographs.
A dirt biker pops a wheelie. | Source: Aaron Levy-Wolins for The Standard
The image shows a street with police officers and barricades blocking traffic. Palm trees line the road, and houses are in the background under a clear blue sky.
Police set up barricades to prevent skaters from bombing the streets they did last year. | Source: David Sjostedt/The Standard

A few masked people tried to steal some of the barricades but only made it about 20 meters before they encountered park rangers and ran away.

Other skaters made a game of skating on their backs underneath the rangers’ truck. 

But as the afternoon gave way to evening, the group worked up the nerve to risk arrest and injury by carrying on the hill-bomb tradition. 

Breetwor said the fact that the show went on after all is a testament to the indomitable skater spirit.

“This is a city of hills—you can’t barricade every hill,” he told The Standard. “I’m proud of the community for coming together.”

Matt Flores, who said he’s lived in the neighborhood since the 1990s, walked a few blocks from his house to enjoy the show.

“I think it’s relatively harmless,” he said. “I think people were overreacting to it in the first place.”

Nico Cruz, a Noe Valley resident who was drinking at nearby bar Woods, cheered on skaters with a pint of pilsner in his hand.

“This is great,” he said. “This is so San Francisco.”

David Sjostedt can be reached at