City authorities will increase police presence and shut down a scaled-down version of the annual Halloween in the Castro event earlier than usual this year to help keep the celebration under control.
Earlier this year, The City flirted with the idea of canceling the event, which draws more than 100,000 people and shuts down the neighborhood, due to residents’ complaints that the streets had gotten out of control during past celebrations. Since 2002, when five people were stabbed at the celebration, The City has tried to increase security by banning alcohol in the streets, setting up police barricades and confiscating dangerous costume accessories such as swords and blunt objects.
After a meeting with Mayor Gavin Newsom and heads of several city departments last month, the decision was made to keep the event going but with some changes to discourage hordes of outsiders from coming into The City.
Representatives from the Mayor’s Office, the Entertainment Commission and other city agencies are meeting once a week until
Halloween to plan the event. In
previous years they have met once a month.
Supervisor Bevan Dufty said specifics on how the event will be secured are still being worked out, but at a Tuesday meeting The City decided to increase the presence of sheriff, police and fire personnel, and the perimeter of the event will be expanded as far east as Duboce Avenue.
"I think the message we are sending is we take seriously the neighborhood concerns," Dufty said. "We recognize that Halloween is like a battleship, it can’t be turned overnight, but we are trying to expand the presence of the public safety departments."
Entertainment will be scaled down as well, according to Dufty, with only one large music screen. The celebration will also be shut down by 11 p.m. Dufty said the idea is to have the Department of Public Works cleaning the streets by 11:01 p.m. The Gang Task Force Unit of the Police Department will also be on hand to help quell any gang activity, and the Castro Muni station will stay open, unlike previous years.