Party could haunt entire city

Start thinking about costumes: There could be an official street party in your neighborhood for Halloween this year.

After a series of violent Halloween parties in the Castro culminated in nine shootings on Oct. 31, 2006, officials shut down the long-standing impromptu party last year by closing bars, restaurants and stores, imposing a strong police presence and aggressively campaigning to keep people in their homes.

With Halloween 2008 falling on a Friday and coinciding with Critical Mass, it was imperative The City come up with an alternate plan, said Supervisor Bevan Dufty, whose district includes the Castro. The annual party has in recent years drawn approximately 100,000 revelers.

With little more than three months to go, that plan is taking shape. Namely, The City will hold a “signature event” — a private concert and dance party that would require an admission fee — in Parking Lot A next to AT&T Park. Surrounding streets will be shut down for a family-oriented party that would be offered for free, Entertainment Commission President Audrey Joseph said.

The City also is in talks with neighborhood and merchant associations throughout The City to host Halloween events or shut down streets for parties in neighborhoods such as the Marina, Polk Street, Broadway, Fillmore and Fisherman’s Wharf, Joseph said.

“We’re trying to make this a citywide event so no one neighborhood gets devastated,” she said.

Dufty would not confirm specific plans because, he said, the Entertainment Commission is still in the process of meeting with stakeholders, including the Mayor’s Office, which declined to comment.

Meetings have already been held with the Police Department, and “Chief [Heather] Fong is committed to working with us,” Dufty said.

This is not the first time city officials have considered hosting a Halloween Bash near AT&T Park: it was proposed last year, but never came to fruition.

Corinne Woods, who chairs a Mission Bay neighborhood group, said residents “were not at all happy” with last year’s plan and were worried that the Mission Bay neighborhood would turn into the holiday’s new problem area.

Last week, the Entertainment Commission presented the group with the plan for this year’s Halloween, which sounded more palatable than last year’s since there would be neighborhood events across The City, Woods said.

Joseph said dispersing crowds across San Francisco will make the holiday safer for revelers.

“Even if you siphon off 100,000 people from the Castro [to the stadium], then we’d be safer,” she said.

Regardless, she said, something must be done because last year’s shutdown cannot be repeated.

“One, it took a huge amountof intense effort.” she said. “Second, businesses were miserable and unhappy. You just can’t close down a complete neighborhood and city unless it’s an emergency situation,”

“And would you call Halloween an emergency?”

kworth@sfexaminer.com

Under consideration

The City may help promote Halloween events in the following locations.

» Parking Lot A, near AT&T Park 

» Broadway Corridor 

» Polk Street 

» Haight-Ashbury 

» Mission district 

» Castro district 

» Fillmore

Source: Entertainment Commission

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