Local News - San Mateo
You could call it, trick-or-treating like a techie. Some parents are trying to find ways to make trick-or-treating more efficient by using social media, so kids can focus on finding treats and not knocking on doors where no one is home
Carlee Davis, 6, of Walnut Creek tried on her costume as soon as it arrived in the mail.
"There's my wig, my dress my cape. I'm really, really excited," said the first grader, who explained she was dressed up as the vampire character "Mavis" from the animated film, Hotel Transylvania.
While Carlee's priority was her costume, her Dad, Aaron, was focused on logistics. He's mapped out the route they'll walk Halloween night, and where they stop and knock on the door will be based on which of his neighbors are in the Halloween Spirit.
"For my daughter, Carlee, it's a huge night for her," Davis said. "It's the candy, it's the friends. It's a whole experience."
He's using the neighborhood-based social media network, Nextdoor, to create a map based on which of his neighbors are giving out candy. The site has a Halloween "candy map" feature where users can register and let their neighbors know ahead of time if they plan on taking part in Halloween festivities, like giving out candy and hosting a haunted house.
"The candy corns are the people who've identified they're open for business," said Davis, who explained that when a user registers as a candy provider on the candy map, a candy-corn icon pops up on their address.
Other parents, especially those with small children, said knowing where to trick-or-treat ahead of time was a good idea.
"At this age they get kind of discouraged if they're just standing there and no one's answering," said Jessica Lisle, of Martinez.
"If we start walking down the street that doesn't have trick or treating we've sort of wasted their energy," said Addy Caballero of Alamo.
Nextdoor created a candy "heat" map of the entire Bay Area. The red zones show which neighborhoods have the most users who've signed up to give out candy this year. San Francisco's Noe Valley and Bernal Heights are hotspots, so is the Grand Lake area of Oakland. Several Neighborhoods near Santa Rita Road in Dublin and Pleasanton also had clusters of users register for the Candy Map, and based on Nextdoor's data, dozens of neighborhoods along the Peninsula and in the South Bay will be hubs of Halloween activity, too.
Children all across the Bay Area will be out in costumes Friday night trick or treating, but for one Antioch 3-year-old this Halloween is an extra special treat.
Matthew Ouimet imitated super heroes as he ran around a Red Cross Blood Drive offering words of support.
"You can do it poppa," said Matthew.
Donated blood carried him through a kidney and liver transplant June of last year.
"It's a miracle. It's amazing. I look back to that first night and how we weren't sure if we were going to have another night,” said Kelly Ouimet, Matthew’s father.
Many more nights and days came from the sacrifice of a real life hero.
“Hey Matthew who was your donor?” asked his mother, Kristi Ouimet. “Brandon," responded Matthew with a smile.
A 22-year-old army soldier who died in a car crash gave Matthew life by registering to donate his organs after death.
This year Kristi’s Halloween costume is a donor's driver’s license, a tribute to those who register.
"So Brandon is our other hero. Matthew's little hero so we thought we needed to do something to push on. Donate life,” said Kelly.
People at Friday’s blood drive see how Matthew has soared towards better health.
"He's come a long way with what he's been faced with," said Paul White, as he donated blood.
Seeing first hand who their efforts help makes blood and organ donation an easy decision.
"It's so inspiring and he's so sweet and so cute. It's really a wonderful thing,” said Mary Clausen, a blood donor and registered organ donor.
The gift of life brings with it childhood memories.
"This is his first Halloween. He gets to go out and trick or treat,” said Kelly.
If you'd like to donate blood you can head to St. Ignacious, 3351 Contra Loma Boulevard in Antioch Saturday between 8 am and 1pm for the second day of the Team Matthew blood drive.
For the first time in four years, the Oakland Police Department now has a sworn staff of more than 700 officers. The 170th academy class graduated Friday morning adding dozens of new officers to the force.
35 people received their badges. Five of them are Oakland natives. And all of them are committed to making the streets safe.
"I will truly to the best of my ability," Oakland Police Deputy Chief Eric Breshears led the class in its oath of office. "For the Oakland Police Department," the officers repeated. "Congratulations," said Breshears, as the crowd erupted in cheers.
The group of men and women became the city's newest officers. "It's honestly surreal. It's a blessing. I've been wanting to do this forever," said 24 year old Isaiah Harris, one of five officers who grew up in Oakland. And they all plan to use their experiences to help them work the streets. "
Just knowing that I can relate to the community. Knowing that I know how to talk to the community. That they can trust someone who was born and raised here," said Harris.
Braulio Aramburo also grew up in Oakland, "My parents were from Mexico, so I got to experience how it is to be an immigrant in Oakland, and how blessed I am to be able to speak two languages."
Ten officers live in Oakland, including 25 year old Ashley Blackwell, who moved here from New Jersey.
"It's a really beautiful place to be and I really like it. And it's something that attracted me. I said I can really do all of police work, not just some of it."
Blackwell's family, which includes her firefighter brother, couldn't be more proud.
"She's not only smart, she has common sense and she's been trained well. And I just have to pray every day when she goes to work that she's going to be safe," said Barbara Blackwell, Ashley's mother.
The class showed video of their training, which includes hand to hand combat, being shocked with a Taser, and sprayed with mace.
"Each of these new officers has sworn to protect this community. And all of them understand the serious sacrifices risks and dangers that go along with being a police officer," said Police Chief Sean Whent to the audience.
This class gets the department to 715 officers, the first time above 700 in four years. "More police officers makes us safer. It eliminates mandatory overtime for the officers that I have will be less tired, I hope," said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.
The new officers don't get much of a break. Some of them have to start Saturday at 6am. That begins their 16 weeks of field training.
The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office filed felony charges Friday against a California Highway Patrol officer for allegedly sending nude pictures of two women in his custody to his personal cell phone.
Prosecutors charged Officer Sean Harrington, 35, with two counts of unauthorized access to a computer and copying computer data.
Prosecutors said the first incident occurred in Livermore on Aug. 6 when a 19-year-old woman was arrested for driving under the influence.
While she was being treated at a local hospital, Harrington allegedly searched her phone and sent private photos from her cell to his.
The second incident happened on Aug. 29, when Harrington arrested a woman in San Ramon for driving under the influence and booked her in the Martinez Detention Facility. When she was released from custody, she realized several of her personal photos had been sent to Harrington's cell phone, prosecutors said.
The woman's attorney notified the District Attorney's Office, which obtained search warrants for Harrington's phone and computer.
Prosecutors said forensic evidence confirms Harrington transmitted the photos to his cell phone as well as to two members of the CHP's Dublin Office.
So far, only Harrington has been charged in the case, but prosecutors said they would charge others if more information comes to light.
Golden Gate Division Chief Avery Browne said he expects the highest level of integrity and moral strength from everyone in the CHP.
"There is no place in our organization for individuals who choose to manipulate the law and department policy for their personal gain," Browne said in a statement. "His behavior does not reflect the professionalism of the thousands of members of the California Highway Patrol who pledge to provide indispensable safety, service, and security to the people of California."
District Attorney Mark Peterson said it was the first time in the county's history his office had charged an officer with a crime of this nature.
Prosecutors and public defenders are both reviewing cases involving Harrington and the officers he sent pictures to.
Harrington told the investigator that the practice of sharing female arrestees' nude photos was not uncommon in the Dublin office of the CHP, according to search warrant records. The search warrant said Harrington first learned of the practice while working at the CHP office in Los Angeles.
Cheers and confetti rained down on Giants players and fans Friday afternoon in San Francisco. It was a celebration that left behind a lot of goodwill and tons of trash.
"We've heard that there's two tons of confetti, that's 4,000 pounds, that's probably the hardest thing to pick up," said San Francisco Department of Public Works spokeswoman Rachel Gordon. "2010, we picked up about 17 tons of garbage after the parade. 2012, it went up to almost 22 tons. So we don't know what to expect this time."
Batting cleanup, a crew of about 100 followed the last float, racing to clear and reopen the streets to traffic within a couple hours. Police predicted a million people might come for the festivities, and the goal was to get streets cleared and reopened in time for the Friday night commute, which included a Critical Mass bike ride and trick-or-treaters on the streets.
The city encouraged everyone to take public transit into the city for the parade, though Marin's Jean Dalporto said problems during the 2012 championship celebration prompted her to drive in this year. "We took the ferry [in 2012]. And we had to wait about two hours, they didn't have enough," said Dalporto as she waved at the floats carrying Giants players.
In Bart & Muni stations, lines for trains formed the moment the parade ended. Bart ridership was up by 60,000 riders Friday morning and Muni saw an additional 30,000 riders over a normal Friday. Muni spokesman Paul Rose said the rain may've kept those numbers from being even bigger.
Those who rode trains in for the celebration said they didn't mind the crush.
"There's a lot of people but it shouldn't be too bad," said Taryn Stewart. "We've done it for every other parade and it's pretty simple, you just have to squish. It's so amazing and everyone's just like so pumped up on Giants energy, Giants spirit. So everyone's just really excited."
Prosecutors dropped three felony charges of arson Friday against one of the two men accused of setting off a string of fires in Alameda in September.
Stephen Peterson, 27, walked out of the Alameda County Superior Court scot-free, according to Alameda County District Attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick.
Friends of the animal rights activist and musician had expressed disbelief at the accusations against him, saying he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Drenick said new evidence has come to light in the past four weeks that was not known to the District Attorney's Office at the time of Peterson's arrest.
"We have been diligent in reviewing this evidence. We have also listened closely to information provided by defense counsel," Drenick said.
"In light of this information, the people moved to dismiss (the counts) against Mr. Peterson, as we do not believe that evidence exists to support any criminal charges against him."
The charges against Peterson were transferred to the other defendant in the case, 22-year-old transient Andrew Gutierrez, who now faces six felony counts of arson.
The string of seven separate fires early in the morning on Sept. 28 caused $3 million in damage to 11 Alameda homes and businesses. Peterson was arrested that night outside a detached-garage fire at 2103 San Jose Ave., according to court documents.
He fit the description of a suspect spotted at the scene of two earlier fires and was identified by a witness, court documents said.
Gutierrez was arrested the same night in the 1500 block of Oak Street, according to court documents. He also matched the description provided by a witness and was spotted on video setting fire to a dumpster at
2326 Times Way just before his arrest, the documents said.
Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore wrote a letter to District Attorney Nancy O'Malley in September asking her to seek the maximum punishment allowed under the law if Gutierrez is convicted.
"Some residents had to flee from their burning homes in the dark. We were very fortunate that no one was all, eleven properties were affected: one suffered minor damage, seven were severely damaged, and three were destroyed. Five businesses have been shuttered; five residential units have been rendered uninhabitable."
A Texas woman has been charged with burglary with intent to cause sexual assault after police said she broke into the home of her husband’s friend and tried to perform sexual acts on him on Monday.
Megan Rae Davis, 31, also known as Megan Hoelting, told police she entered the man’s home through an unlocked gate and entered the house through the back door, according to the affidavit. She got into the bed, kissed the man and wrapped her legs around him, the affidavit said.
The man told police he woke up when he felt someone on top of him trying to perform a sexual act on him. According to the affidavit, the man said he recognized the woman, who was naked except for her panties, as his friend’s wife and told her to get off him and leave the house.
When she refused, the man called the police. Officers arrested her while she was still in his room, according to the affidavit.
Davis posted bail and was released on Thursday.
Under gray skies and a steady mist, tens of thousands of San Francisco Giants fans watched their favorite players take photos, wave and mug for the crowd from atop double-decker buses, as the team's victory parade wound through downtown on its way to City Hall.
Young girls with cellphones held high shrieked as shortstop Brandon Crawford rolled by.
"He's the best shortstop in the league," said Jessica Earnshaw, 17.
The San Jose high school senior snapped off several photos of Crawford.
"He's my favorite," she said. "By far."
A broadly smiling pitcher Tim Hudson waved an orange towel over his head to wild cheers. Two buses later, outfielder Hunter Pence, wearing a replica wrestling championship belt and mugging for the crowd, threw his hands up and led several chants of, "Let's go, Giants!"
The parade featured Giants' legends Juan Marichal and Willie Mays. Barry Bonds rode in a convertible, holding an umbrella and smiling broadly.
The fans greeted him loudly and warmly with chants of "Barry! Barry! Barry!"
Sidewalk cannons shot clouds of confetti into the air as a giant panda hovered overhead in honor of third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
Iris Gomez, 37, arrived to the parade route with sandwiches, juice and plenty of rain gear more than 5 ½ hours before the start of noontime event.
"I love the Giants," she said. "I've been going to the Giants games since the tickets were $8. I wouldn't miss this."
The parade will end at San Francisco City Hall and Civic Center Plaza, where Mayor Ed Lee will honor the team with a giant onstage ceremony.
The 3-2 victory Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals was the Giants' third World Series championship in five years.
Parade efforts were underway long before Sandoval snagged the final fly ball and dropped on his back on the field in victory.
"Unlike most parades where we have weeks and months to plan, this all kind of came down the pipes over the course of days," The Parade Guys' Stephanie Mufson told ABC7 News.
The parade, which is free and open to the public, was a first for 43-year-old Ana Gonzalez, who rose before the sun to drive to San Francisco from her suburban Bay Area home.
With the parade falling on Halloween, it left her and many other parents with a tough choice between celebrating their team and attending school events.
"I asked the kids if they wanted to go to their Halloween parade or the Giants and they said, 'Let's go see the Giants,'" Gonzalez said.
Police Chief Greg Suhr said the number of officers on the streets Friday will be at least 20 percent higher than usual, with police dogs helping with security.
"We will prepare for any inevitability, but we are hoping for the best," he Suhr. "I wouldn't be surprised if there were 2 million people in San Francisco (for the event) Friday."
A pharmacy in San Francisco's Marina district and another in the Sunset district were robbed of prescription medication by a man with a gun on Thursday, according to police.
The first robbery was reported at about 7:20 a.m. Thursday at a Walgreens pharmacy in the Marina District.
A suspect, described as an Asian man between the age of 20 and 40, entered the pharmacy located in the 3200 block of Divisadero Street near Lombard Street.
He approached the pharmacy counter with a silver handgun and demanded drugs from the clerk, according to police.
The pharmacy clerk complied and gave the suspect four bottles of medication. The suspect then fled from the store on foot.
The second robbery occurred at about 4:15 p.m. on Thursday in the city's Central Sunset district, police said.
In that robbery, the suspect, also described as an Asian male and estimated to be in his 20s or 30s, entered Greenhouse Pharmacy in the 1500 block of Noriega Street wearing a backpack.
The owner of the pharmacy, Clarence Yuk, said he heard pills clinking in their bottles inside the man's backpack as he entered the store.
Yuk's wife was working behind the counter when the man brandished a handgun at her.
The suspect was dressed in black and had most of his face covered, Yuk said.
The suspect ordered the owner's wife to hand over whatever supply of the drug hydrocodone that the pharmacy had in stock, Yuk said.
After the clerk gave him the drugs, the suspect fled the store on foot.
Yuk said there is a camera in the store but that it wasn't plugged in at the time of the robbery.
He said this is the first time in 20 years that the pharmacy has been robbed and that it was all was quite "exciting."
No injuries were reported in either robberies and police have not yet made any arrests.
A woman who died after becoming stranded on the rocks near Lands End on the northern coast of San Francisco Thursday afternoon has been identified by the San Francisco medical examiner's office as a 26-year-old Seattle resident.
Randi Salmon was pulled out of the water and pronounced dead at the scene on Thursday afternoon.
A second victim, identified as a 27-year-old man, was pulled to safety from some rocks, according to San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge.
Fire crews responded around 12:10 p.m. to reports of two people stuck on rocks over a cliff in the area of El Camino Del Mar and 32nd Avenue, Talmadge said.
Rescue swimmers with the fire department and some boat crews responded to the scene. Both the U.S. Coast Guard and National Parks Service were also notified.
Virgin Galactic has reported that its SpaceShipTwo space tourism rocket has crashed during a test flight due to an unspecified problem.
The company tweeted Friday morning that SpaceShipTwo was flying under rocket power and then tweeted that it had "experienced an in-flight anomaly."
Later tweets reported that the "serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo." Virgin Galactic also tweeted that the condition of the two pilots is currently unkown.
Kern County Fire Department reports it is heading to a location in the Mojave Desert. California Highway Patrol Officer Darlena Dotson says the agency is responding to a report of a crash in the Cantil area.
SpaceShipTwo has been under development at Mojave Air and Spaceport in the desert northeast of Los Angeles.
SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft by a specially designed jet and then released before igniting its rocket for suborbital thrill ride into space and then a return to Earth as a glider.
In this video she reveals that she may not end her life this Saturday, November 1st.
She says in the video that she still feels good enough and has a good enough time with her family and friends, that it doesn't feel like it's time.
Despite the time she's had recently she says she can still feel her health getting worse as she gets sicker.
Photo courtesy of Compassion and Choices.
Maine health officials obtained a 24-hour court order restricting Kaci Hickox's movement after the nurse repeatedly defied the state's quarantine for medical workers who have treated Ebola patients.
A judge granted the order Thursday limiting Hickox's travel, requiring a three-foot buffer if she encounters people, and banning her from public places until there's a further decision Friday.
The state went to court Thursday, following through with a threat to try to impose restrictions on her until the 21-day incubation period for Ebola ends on Nov. 10. In court documents, the judge indicated further action was anticipated Friday.
Police were under orders to monitor the movements of the nurse who twice left home, once to talk to reporters Wednesday and again for a bike ride with her boyfriend on Thursday.
A state police cruiser remained outside her home Friday. Fort Kent Police Chief Tom Pelletier went inside the home briefly Friday morning and said afterward, "We just had a good conversation." He said he was not there to arrest or detain her.
The legal action is shaping up as the nation's biggest test case yet in the struggle to balance public health and fear of Ebola against personal freedom.
In a court filing, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention backed away from the state's original request for an in-home quarantine and called for restrictions that fall in line with federal guidelines.
Hickox remains at risk of being infected with Ebola until the end of a 21-day incubation period, Dr. Sheila Pinette.
"It is my opinion that the respondent should be subjected to an appropriate public health order for mandatory direct active monitoring and restrictions on movement as soon as possible and until the end of the incubation period ... to protect the public health and safety," she wrote.
Hickox, who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, says confinement violates her rights. She says that she has no symptoms and poses no risk to the public.
Hickox, 33, stepped into the media glare when she returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone to become subject to a mandatory quarantine in New Jersey. After being released from a hospital there, she returned to this small town, where she was placed under what Maine authorities called a voluntary quarantine.
She said she is following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of daily monitoring for fever and other signs of the disease.
"I'm not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it's not science-based," she said Wednesday evening.
Some states like Maine are going above and beyond the CDC guidelines to require quarantines. So is the U.S military.
President Barack Obama, the nation's top infectious-disease expert and humanitarian groups have warned that overly restrictive measures could cripple the fight against the disease at its source by discouraging volunteers like Hickox from going to West Africa, where the outbreak has sickened more than 13,000 people and killed nearly 5,000 of them.
"These kinds of restrictions could dissuade hundreds, if not thousands, of skilled volunteers from helping stop Ebola's spread, which is in the national interest of every one of our countries," Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Thursday in Brussels.
Officers are investigating a fatal vehicle versus pedestrian collision that took place in San Jose Friday morning, a police spokesman said.
Police responded to the area of McKee Road and Challenger Avenue at 12:33 a.m. on a report of a vehicle that struck a woman, according to San Jose police spokesman Albert Morales.
The woman was found in the street suffering from serious injuries, and was pronounced dead a short time after officers arrived on scene, Morales said.
Investigations revealed that the vehicle was driving westbound on McKee when it hit the woman who was walking eastbound in the westbound lane of traffic.
The driver of the vehicle stopped and is cooperating with the investigation.
Drugs or alcohol do not appear to be a factor in the collision, according to Morales.
This is San Jose's 36th traffic fatality of 2014.
BART officials have announced a major delay at the Daly City station in the SFO, Millbrae, and Easy Bay directions this morning.
The delay was announced around 6:26 a.m. and was caused by an equipment problem on the track.
No estimate for when the delay will be over was available.
Police are searching for a gunman after a deadly shooting in downtown San Jose.
The shooting happened just before midnight. A group of young men were walking in Fountain Alley, which is a pedestrian thoroughfare between First and Second streets when an argument broke out among them. One man took out a gun and started shooting.
The victim was hit about four times. Police say the victim returned fire at least once. The suspect ran away southbound on Second Street.
The man hit walked away injured with two other men and collapsed on Second Street. He was rushed to Regional Medical Center where he died from his injuries.
Homicide detectives are interviewing witnesses back at the police department so they can get a good suspect description. At this point, police do not know what the argument was about or if the shooting was gang related.
Police have taken the victim's mother to the police station so that she can answer questions that may help in the investigation.
Relatives at the scene identified the victim as Tyrone. They say he grew up in East Palo Alto but was living with his girlfriend in Hayward.
At this point there are no arrests in this case.
The investigation is impacting roads in the area. Santa Clara Street is closed from Third to Second streets. VTA is not running the light rail on Second Street and two buses are being rerouted.
Three people were injured in a triple stabbing in San Jose's Evergreen neighborhood earlier Thursday evening, according to police.
Officers were called to the 3800 block of Whinney Place Way around 5 p.m. on a report of a stabbing, according to police.
They found three people there with stab wounds, none of them life threatening.
An adult male suspect was arrested and booked into Santa Clara County Jail.
The stabbing remains under investigation and the motive and circumstances remain unknown at this time, police said.
A woman was killed Thursday afternoon after falling from a cliff at Land's End in San Francisco. Her companion was rescued by fire crews, and escaped with minor cuts and scrapes.
"We had one person that was in serious distress, over the side of the cliff, maybe150, 200 feet down," San Francisco Fire Battalion Chief Zach Pumphrey told KTVU, "and there was also a woman who was down further at the water line."
The woman, 300 feet down, was unresponsive when rescue swimmers got to her. National Parks Police Sgt. Larry Morales told KTVU she was 24-years-old, and a resident of San Francisco, but may not have lived in the area long, as her identification is from out-of-state.
"People have walked along those routes and fallen to their death," Fire Captain and Paramedic Sebastian Wong told KTVU, noting the couple had to cross a fence and ignore bold signs, warning of the extreme danger on the steep cliffs of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The vistas from Lands' End, just north of the Cliff House, are spectacular.
Sometimes, though, hikers seek a better view, or they're driven by curiosity, or a sense of adventure, to venture out of bounds.
"You don't have to enter these hazardous domains to get a better view," emphasized Captain Wong, "all you’re risking is your life and possibly the lives of other people."
The man who survived is 27-years-old and from the area, he was seen afterwards, subdued and shivering, as firefighters worked to unlock his car so he could leave.
Hoisting him from the sheer cliff face was anything but routine.
"We have to bring a rescuer down there, and put a harness on him to make sure he comes up safely," explained Captain Wong, "if there are any mistakes, he could fall again, even further."
A few hours after the rescue, another 911 call, brought the same SFFD cliff rescue crew back to the oceanfront. This time, a man in his 30s needed a rope tossed down to him because he was stuck on a bluff.
"He was holding his clothes, holding them, and he dropped them," described Battalion Chief Pumphrey.
The man had been at the beach, and tried to climb his way up, wearing only shorts, but found scaling the cliff trickier than he expected.
"He somehow lost his pants with his keys, and his phone and his wallet," added Pumphrey, "and he wanted to go back and retrieve them but became unsure of his footing."
Fire rescuers have seen overconfident climbers before.
"They start off thinking they can take this, and then realize 'uh oh I'm stuck,'" observed Wong, "What do I do? I'm halfway up this bluff, I can't go down, I can't go up, because there's a cliff overhead I can't get over."
The name of the woman killed in Thursday's fall is being withheld by the coroner until her next-of-kin are notified.
Friday will be a busy day for San Francisco celebration. In addition to the Giants' Parade, the Castro District expects to draw its usual Halloween crowd.
While that crowd has been smaller in recent years, the neighborhood is still a huge attraction. And this year there is a new and improved Castro for revelers.
On Thursday night, there was a party in the Castro to celebrate the improvements made to Castro Street just in time for Halloween.
Merchants say the construction caused them headaches, but supporters say the changes were needed as part of the area's evolution.
The Castro displayed its penchant for flamboyance and street theater as supporters celebrated the enhancements including wider sidewalks, new rainbow lights and crosswalks along with plaques honoring well known figures of the LGBT community.
"Look at this. You walk around and it's just so beautiful and safe," said Chuck Seeley, who has lived in the Castro for 20 years.
But that beauty came with a steep price-tag to the tune of $4.5 million.
And merchants say they paid a price too, saying the seven month long construction project kept customers away. \
Cliff's Variety owner Terry Bennett estimates that she's lost about $100,000 in the past year.
"People came back when the streets opened up, So we're really keeping our fingers crossed with everything opening back up, the locals will come back," said Bennett.
Luckily October is typically a busy month for area merchants, and Halloween means big business. Business owners say they’re hoping that boom will help turn around a miserable year.
At Gyro Express, the owner stocked up on extra food and more employees will be working this weekend.
He anticipates double the business through the Halloween weekend.
"I think it's going to get crowded and busy. Hopefully, we'll make good money and we'll be happy," said Volkan Hewal, co-owner of Gyro Express.
Castro Street was blocked off between Market and 18th for Thursday night’s street party. But they won't be closed for Halloween on Friday or the weekend.
"There will be a significant police presence to make sure there is no street party and that the streets stay open," said Police Chief Greg Suhr.
The improvements are designed to get people to, as one supporter put it, come to the Castro “to eat, drink, buy and be happy.”
Merchants and neighbors say they expect large crowds starting Friday for Halloween. In addition, Saturday is known as "Gay Halloween,” which is when many locals dress up and patronize the area's bars and restaurants.
A caretaker and two others were stabbed at a Board and Care home in San Jose Thursday night by one of the home’s clients.
The home on Whinney Place Way houses clients that are mentally disturbed and/or challenged. San Jose police just after 5 p.m. Thursday the caretaker called 911 saying he had been stabbed in the chest. As officers responded to the scene, the suspect allegedly stabbed two clients who lived at the home in the neck.
When police arrived to the scene they found the three victims in multiple locations throughout the house. All three had been stabbed with a large kitchen knife. The victims were taken to a nearby hospital and officials say they are expected to survive.
Michael Hanpton rents out the home’s garage and told KTVU when he walked outside of his home he saw the victims stabbed and bloodied.
San Jose Police Sergeant Greg Barth said San Jose Board and Care homes, particular in the Evergreen Neighborhood, represent a large number of calls received by SJPD.
In part, the reason why that is could be because its unclear who, if anyone, regulates these types of homes.
“I don’t believe these are regulated by the state, city or anyone. It’s a Board and Care home, I think they call them independent living homes,” Barth said.
Neighbors told KTVU police have visited this particular home several times for parties, fights and most recently the stabbing.
“We are crying for help because we are trying to get guidance on what to do with this house. It’s gone too far,” said one neighbor who asked to remain anonymous.
Investigators say the suspect may have been under the influence of drugs at the time of the stabbing. The suspect was arrested and will be booked at the Santa Clara County Jail. He faces three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.