The organizers of the Sunset Junction Street Fair suffered a major blow when the Board of Public Works this morning for the second time denied granting the permit to hold the massive street fair this weekend. Despite committing $150,000 to pay the fees demanded by the city, Sunset Junction officials failed to win over the commissioners, who voted unanimously to deny the permit needed to close off nine blocks of Sunset Boulevard for the annual street and music festival.
The second and final vote throws the future of the 31-year-old festival and its nonprofit organizer – the Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance – into question only three days before an estimated 100,000 people and musical groups from across the nation were scheduled to descend on Silver Lake this weekend for the end-of-summer bash.
A statement on the festival Twitter feed said:
Seriously, we tried our best on raising the huge amount of money- thanks for all the support.. unfortunately we didn’t meet the expectations.
After rejecting the permit on Monday, the commissioners left the door open to reconsider the permit application if the Sunset Junction organizers provided a check to cover an estimated $140,000 for police protection and other services. A last-minute, 36-hour fundraiser, including a loan from concert promoter Live Nation, left Sunset Junction with about $152,000 to give to the city. However, a certified check could not be provided until Thursday and commissioners remained skeptical after reviewing bank statements submitted during this morning’s hearing.
“We have given you opportunity after opportunity, ” said commission president Andrea Alarcon. “This is far short of making anything right.”
In addition to about $140,000 needed for this year’s permit, the festival also owned the city about $267,000 in unpaid fees from last year’s event. Under city law, a special event permit cannot be issued unless city fees are paid in advance. Philip Tate, an attorney for the festival, warned the commissioners that the city may have difficulty recovering money owed from last year if this year’s event is canceled, which he predicted would lead to lawsuits against the festival organizers.
“This organization will probably go away,” Tate said of the Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance, a nonprofit group that relies on the festival to generate $300,000 a year to support programs for neighborhood youth.
Festival officials say the fees imposed on their event are much higher than other street fairs and claimed the bills presented by the city had inflated costs for police and other services.
Volunteers and supporters of the festival offered apologies to Silver Lake residents and business owners after years of complaints about the festival and Michael McKinley, who heads the alliance. Many residents have complained that what once was a free and easy going neighborhood event has become a sprawling and disruptive commercial festival with $25 admission.
“We need to be able to give [the festival] back to the community,” said Liliana Perez, a volunteer with the alliance. “We need to be inclusive of all community members, of all business partners. Nobody should be left out. The whole purpose of this effort is to bridge communities.”
- Sunset Junction releases statement after being denied permits. Pop & Hiss
- Ukuleles & Popcorn: Silver Lake merchants to host alternative to Sunset Junction. The Eastsider
- Bands and venues prepare to a weekend without Sunset Junction. The Eastsider
- Sunset Junction again denied permit; festival likely to be cancelled. West Coast Sound
- L.A. denies permit to Sunset Junction festival. L.A. Now
Board of Public Works denied Sunset Junction fair permit. Patch