The city’s Board of Public Works this afternoon voted against issuing the necessary permit to allow the staging of this weekend’s Sunset Junction Street Fair in Silver Lake. After a more than three-hour long hearing, the board voted 3 to 1 to deny the permit after the organizers failed to pay the $140,000 to cover the estimated costs of providing police protection and other municipal services for one of Los Angeles’ largest street festivals.
The Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance, the nonprofit that organizes the 31-year-old festival, did not have enough money to pay the $140,000 in fees, according to officials who spoke during the hearing. An offer to pay $50,000 and pay the difference in a few days was proposed but commissioners were advised that they could not approve a permit under such conditions.
In addition to the fees for this year’s event, the city was also demanding that Sunset Junction organizers pay the estimated $270.000 in fees that have gone unpaid from the 2010 event. The city can’t issue a special event permit without receiving payment in advance, officials said during the hearing.
* Update: The Sunset Junction board has launched a last-minute fundraiser campaign to come up with an additional $90,000 by Wednesday when the Board of Public Works is scheduled to meet again, according to attorney Phillip Tate. That $90,000 in addition to the $50,000 already in hand would pay for the 2011 festival permit. The Sunset Junction board has “started reaching out to sponsors to make this happen,” Tate said. “They have had positive feedback so far.”
One of the commissioners who voted against the permit would have to make a motion to review the Monday’s vote. “I would be surprised if they are not willing to reconsider it,” Tate said. “The board of the nonprofit remains committed to making this event happen.”
Today’s hearing comes after a years of tensions between the festival organizers, including Sunset Junction alliance chief Michael McKinley, and Silver Lake business owners, residents and elected officials, including the office of Councilman Eric Garcetti. While many today praised the youth programs and community services that are paid in part with festival proceeds, residents also voiced complaints that the 31-year-old festival, which now stretches nine blocks along Sunset Boulevard, has outgrown the neighborhood. “Today’s street fair is a monster rock and roll festival,” said business owner Peter Choi. “It’s an outdoor beer and tequila festival.”
Sunset Junction Street Fair supporters, which ranged from musicians and youths who participate in Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance programs, said the festival and program it supports have helped improve lives and made Silver Lake a more desirable place to live and open a business. McKinley said the festival, which costs at least $600,000 to produce, generates about $300,000 to support the alliance’s programs and staff.
“I think it’s been good for the community,” said business owner Melanie Tusquellas. “It’s something that has help define the community.”
However, some of the speakers and commissioners said the city can no longer afford to let the Sunset Junction festival avoid paying for city services, including the cost of 150 police officers who work the festival each day.
Silver Lake resident Wes Joe said he recalls attending the first street fair, which was organized to ease relations among Gay and Latino residents. While the $20 admission and huge crowds has put off many residents, “some sweetness lingers” from the festival’s early years, Joe said. “I hope you can work something out.”
- Sunset Junction’s operating permit application denied. L.A. Times
- Public Works denies permit for Sunset Junction festival. City Maven
- Permit denied for Sunset Junction but city may revisit Wednesday if organizers can foot $141,000 tab. Buzz Bands
- City votes down permit for Sunset Junction. Patch
- City fees may quash this year’s Sunset Junction. L.A. Times