Spooked - Page 2

With five weeks to go until Halloween — and no public plan — Castro residents are getting nervous

Those plans fell through, thanks to the objections of neighborhood associations that were left out of the planning loop and the financial concerns of event promoters who allegedly got spooked by all of the negative publicity that has been given to Halloween in the Castro.

Rich Dyer of the Sheriff's Department confirmed to the audience at the meeting that city department heads have been holding secret sessions for months.

With Newsom recently admitting that the city can't prevent people from showing up, Sachet said the members of Citizens for Halloween "aren't placing blame but want accountability."

SF Party Party founder Ted Strawser said he's worried that the only party happening on Halloween will take place at San Francisco General Hospital and the County Jails unless the city provides answers to the community's questions about public safety and health, medical emergencies, and transportation.

CFH cofounder Alix Rosenthal, who challenged Dufty in last year's District 8 supervisorial race, joined Virginia, Strawser, and LGBT community activist Hank Wilson in sending the city an extensive list of questions, which also includes concerns about the impact of the current plan on businesses, the lack of community partnership and involvement, and hopes for a post-Halloween evaluation.

"We think we deserve to know as stakeholders," Virginia said.

The Sheriff's Department, at least, was willing to talk a bit about what's going on. "The plans have changed radically over the last three or four months, as have the roles of the departments, but the police have finally settled on a response kind of plan," Dyer said. "And as far as I know, there are no plans for checkpoints this year."

Asked by mayoral candidate Chicken John Rinaldi whether he thought that frisking members of the crowd, as was done last year, helped contain the situation, Dyer nodded.

"A tremendous amount of alcohol was intercepted, along with knives and other weapons," Dyer said.

But this time around there won't be the normal safety precautions; for example, cars will be able to drive along Castro between 18th Street and Market. If the mayor's polite requests fail and large crowds show up anyway, the place could be a mess — and without toilets available, people may simply use the street.

Two Castro businesses, Ritual Coffee Roasters and one that asked to remain anonymous, will provide porta-potties to any residence or business that requests help. But with the witching hour just five weeks away, the prospects for peace and harmony aren't looking good.

For more information, visit www.halloweeninthecastro.com or www.citizensforhalloween.com.