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Halloween in the Castro: Where Will Everyone Pee? 

Wednesday, Oct 24 2007

It's the final week before Halloween, so be sure to stock up on dry ice, tiny candies, and, for you Castro residents, a pair of urine-proof galoshes.

This year's nonevent in the Castro will feature hundreds of cops, sheriff's deputies, and juvenile probation officers in anticipation of the usual massive crowds — but, by city decree, no outhouses. Where the throngs of law enforcement personnel will relieve themselves is anyone's guess, but the revelers' behavior is easier to gauge: No doorway, bush, or alley will likely be spared.

With the Department of Public Works unwilling to lift its Porta-John ban, activists have even started to talk of extralegal potty placement. "We have realized that getting toilets placed will take an act of vigilantism," wrote Citizens for Halloween co-founder Alix Rosenthal in the group's newsletter (and yes, that's her underline).

Toilet vigilantism? What's that all about?

"I don't think I'm willing to go so far as to break the law," Rosenthal told SF Weekly — a sensible position for a lawyer in the Oakland City Attorney's office and former S.F. supervisorial candidate. "But we can try to locate toilets in the Castro wherever permits are not required — on people's private property or driveways. I don't want to get too specific. I don't want to tip it off to the city."

She did mention a few ideas off the record, however — and they're easily the most ingenious schemes to quasilegally endow outhouses to a nonevent.

Incidentally, the city isn't the only obstacle to Rosenthal and others placing toilets on the street willy-nilly; no rental company will lease you a fleet of Porta-Johns if you can't prove you've got somewhere lawful to put them. But Rosenthal said she's confident she'll find her spots. "We're talking about renting a huge number ... I think 100 would be the most. It depends on how vigilante we want to be."

Yet all this talk of becoming outhouse Robin Hoods would be unnecessary if Mayor Gavin Newsom beneficently stated, "Let them have toilets." In fact, at an Oct. 10 Police Commission meeting, Martha Cohen, Newsom's point person on Castro non-Halloween, said the city may yet change its stance on outhouses. And now? Cohen didn't return SF Weekly's calls, but we didn't take it personally. Citizens for Halloween members say Cohen doesn't return their calls either.

So, right now, they're pretty pissed off. But, come Halloween, they just hope not to get pissed on.

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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