City officials working to move San Francisco’s annual Halloween celebration out of the Castro — due to problems with rowdy crowds and incidents of violence — may try to lure partygoers out to the lot behind AT&T Park in China Basin.
At last year’s Castro event, nine people were wounded by one gunman, despite the presence of hundreds of police officers. In 2002, four people were stabbed at the event, which annually fills Castro, Market and adjoining streets with tens of thousands of partiers, many in costume and some inebriated, from all over the Bay Area.
In April, Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Bevan Dufty met with representatives from several city agencies to discuss the feasibility of phasing out the event in the Castro and instead offering a Halloween event along The City’s waterfront.
Although the original idea was to move theevent to Piers 30/32, Newsom said, a new option proposed is to move it to Pier 48, located across the street from AT&T Park, where the Giants play.
“We’re just looking to reduce the stress and anxiety in the Castro; that’s our primary focus — to make sure we don’t continue with the same problems we’ve seen in the last few years,” Newsom said. “We’re working to find a positive alternative.”
David Osgood, president of the Rincon Tenants Association, said creating an event in South Beach, with its increasingly large residential population, is not going to solve the problem.
“It seems like the leaders of the Castro area don’t want their event anymore, so they’re trying to find some other neighborhood to dump it into,” said Osgood, who sent a letter to Newsom on Wednesday on behalf of the Rincon Center’s 320 tenants protesting the party plan.
Newsom’s spokesman, Nathan Ballard, said moving the event farther south, behind the ballpark, would result in “minimal disruption to the residential areas.”
“We take the neighbors’ concerns very seriously,” Ballard said.
This is not the first time city officials have tried to move the event out of the Castro. From 1996-2001, The City sponsored a Halloween event at Civic Center, but tens of thousands of people still attended the Castro event, doubling the security work for police officers.
Ballard said The City is working to host an event that is “so good that it’ll draw folks away from the Castro,” to the out-of-the-way area. Last month, a member of The City’s Entertainment Commission said San Francisco is looking to bring in a big-name pop music act to headline the event.
Dufty is also negotiating with Castro merchants to possibly get them to close down early Oct. 31, Ballard said.
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