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Friday, October 19, 2007

Halloween in Fallujah: Porta-Potties Could Become Deadly, Stinky Projectile Weapons, City says

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2007 at 1:09 PM


By Ty Callister

The City of San Francisco held an official Halloween in the Castro meeting on Thursday in an attempt to address public questions about this year’s dubious Halloween festivities. As The Snitch was the first to report back in August, the City announced it will not endorse the annual Halloween in the Castro party this year, sparking praise from some, outcry from others, and a general feeling of confusion about what the hell the city is going to do when tens or hundreds of thousands of people inevitably show up on October 31st.

The packed, standing-room-only community meeting, held at the Eureka Valley Recreation Center, revealed that the city still has not decided whether they will set up portable toilets in the Castro, despite annual complaints of urination and defecation on the streets. Martha Cohen, a representative from the mayor’s office said, “Right here and now, I cannot tell you ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I will tell you that we are very aware of our responsibilities and we are still discussing it.”

She further explained that one of the reasons the portable toilet decision has not yet been made is because port-o-potty’s are dangerous.

“Those standalone portable toilets can also become weapons,” she said. “They can be lifted and become projectiles.”

The primary reason, however, seems to be that the city wants to send a strong message that no official event is occurring, and providing toilets would contradict that.

The City recently began a publicity campaign that declared that Halloween in the Castro this year “is not happening.” The general public response has been a resounding “yeah right.”

This same cynicism seemed to exist in the audience at the meeting, but most of them seemed to favor the City’s side over the foreign partiers’ side. As the meeting opened to public question and comment, applause rose most often for those Castro residents who passionately declared that the party in the Castro was no party for them.

The most creative comments were those who posed ideas for next year, including one woman who suggested the best way to keep the troublemakers out of the Castro on Halloween would be to require all participants to wear a dress.

Although the toilet question is still up in the air, Captain John Goldberg of Mission Police Station said the police actually do have a plan.

“Should the crowds arrive, we have contingency plans with Muni to reroute service,” Goldberg said. “And we have contingency plans to bring in extra officers to close down either sidewalks or streets as it becomes necessary, but the goal is for that not to happen.”

Goldberg also expressed appreciation to many city and state offices like Muni and the California Highway patrol, which have collaborated with San Francisco Police in plans to keep the unofficial Halloween in the Castro under control.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who represents the Castro district, and has been critical of Halloween in the Castro for a couple years, made the meeting’s concluding remarks: “I’ve been honest and said that things have not gone the way I would hope they would go, and I certainly have never been shy to take responsibility, but I would hope that at this stage, people would give us the opportunity to try and bring down the numbers of people coming in here, and recognize that the city understands that the year after this we’ve gotta have a comprehensive plan.”

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