Halloween 2008 on officials' minds

Castro residents and merchants woke to clean streets and plenty of parking Thursday morning — not the usual Halloween hangover — but many are asking if it’s worth the cost of losing one of The City’s great pastimes.

Now, community members and politicians alike have to decide what to do next year. Halloween 2008 falls on a Friday, not a school night like this year. It’s also the last Friday of the month and bicyclists will be out in force for Critical Mass.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty said The City better start planning soon.

“There’s no way the city can have a non-event strategy for 2008,” Dufty said.

At a Merchants of Upper Market and Castro meeting Thursday, Dufty listened to local business owners and their concerns about the lack of parking and loss of revenue at this year’s nonevent.

“Barbacks, bartenders and waiters lost a lot of money last night,” Dufty said Thursday. “But we’re going to try and promote some special events over the holidays to make up for it.”

Petyr Kane owns two clothing shops on Castro Street and also serves as vice president of the merchants group. He was delighted to have a good night’s sleep without his security alarms going off. Still, he would have liked some festivities.

“Everybody was happy in the end that they were safe, and when they woke up in the morning, the streets were clean,” he said.

According to police, there were seven arrests in the Castro area Halloween night, six on suspicion of public drunkenness and one for an outstanding warrant.

Some business owners, however, are still prickly about the pressure.

Koch Salgut, owner of Ararat Mediterranean restaurant and bar, decided not to close his doors for Halloween and said he felt intimidated.

According to Salgut, uniformed officers, undercover cops, alcoholic beverage control enforcers and fire officials harassed his business throughout the night. Salgut was one of a handful of businesses that served liquor until midnight.

“I’m not going to be pressured into closing. It’s not about money. It’s about principle,” he said, who added that he was embarrassed when fire marshals told him he needed a permit to put candles on tables.

Fire Inspector John Darmanin said Wednesday night, however, that the San Francisco Fire Department is normally aggressive during big events, even non-events.

“We’re just checking doors, crowd capacity, blocked sidewalks,” Darmanin said. “We come out whenever there’s a reason.”What most agree on after this Halloween is that there needs to be a celebration of some sort, but whether it can be organized in the next 363 days could prove challenging.

bbegin@examiner.com

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