Neighbors make noise over concerts at Los Angeles State Historic Park

This past weekend’s Hard Day of The Dead concert at L.A. State Historic Park attracted  70,000 electro music fans. It also, once again, attracted complaints from neighbors living in nearby Solano Canyon.  “The pyrotechnics and fireworks were on a scale comparable to [a] train wreck,” said Sara Harris, Secretary and Solano Canyon representative on the Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council, in a letter to state park officials. “This is yet one more in a steady stream of State-permitted, large-scale, for profit events during which our residential communities have had to suffer noise pollution that exceeds Los Angeles Municipal Code restrictions.” While state officials say noise complaints have declined, they are working on a new set of guidelines to further reduce complaints from the popular outdoor concerts that generate crucial revenue for the 32-acre park north of Chinatown.

The two-day concert is one of about three dozen events – including 5k races – that are held at the state park each year, said Sean Woods, who oversees state parks in the central Los Angeles  area.  But it’s the four large concerts that generate the most revenue – about $250,000 to $300,000 per concert – as well as complaints for the seven-year-old park.  Those concerts play a crucial rule in generating the revenue necessary to finish building the park and maintain its operations, Woods said. Still, Woods concedes his agency is still learning how to better manage the events  to minimize impact on the surrounding neighborhoods. “We are not event promoters – we are park people,” Harris said.

In response to complaints from previous years, the stages set up for the Hard concert no longer face west in the direction of Solano Canyon. They are now positioned to face south and east in the direction of downtown.  In addition, the concerts must now end by midnight  instead of 2 am.  The concert promoters also deploy teams of workers to record noise levels when residents call a hotline to complain. As a result of these and other efforts, Woods says that most of the noise now generated by the concerts is contained within the park,  with complaints received by the hotline dropping from 150 during previous events to only seven during last weekend’s concert.

But  Harris and other residents from Solano Canyon and other neighborhoods near the park said that more needs to be done.  Harris and others have taken their concerns about the concerts to  Mayor Eric Garcetti as well as State Senator Kevin DeLeon.  “This is not Coachella,” said Harris referring to the large desert music festival.

The park and its concerts do have the support of groups like the Chinatown Service Center Youth Center, which generates money from fundraisers at the park during the concerts, said George Yu, Executive Director Los Angeles Chinatown Business Council.

“Even if there was a magical pool of funds to maintain and reconstruct [the state park] without special events, the positive economic impact of these events totals in the tens of millions for every event, every hotel room in Chinatown, Downtown, every Air BnB is sold out,” Yu said via email. “Parking lots are full, merchants who chose to participate are accessing the tens of thousands of happy event attendees … We should focus on the greater good versus individual needs.”

As the park prepares to be closed off in February for the long-awaited, $18 million renovation, Woods says he will be exploring how other venues, such as the Hollywood Bowl and the Greek Amphitheater, handle events and noise and thudding basslines that can be felt in nearby homes.  The state park might look at requiring concerts to end earlier or prohibiting fireworks and pyrotechnic displays. Also, the park may look at holding more weddings and other events that do not generate as much noise and traffic.

But Woods concedes concerts will always be an issue.  “When you do concerts in an urban setting, you are going to get complaints.”


  1. We need a Los Angeles free of any type of event, period. I live near the Dodger Stadium and I call 911 on the fireworks every time! Enough is enough! This is a global, gigantic metropolis filled with people and we should not have to deal with so called “special” events! How about some peace and quiet!

  2. It's Not Even a Park

    Park? It’s more like a dust bowl for rent. In the “off season” when there are no events the grass starts to grow and take hold, the plants and trees flourish and progress is made. Then come the events. After it’s over; we’re back to square one. Stop pimping out the space and turn it into an actual park.

    • From what I’ve heard (unconfirmed) the parks current state is only temporary. Allegedly, wherever the state has enough money the park will get redone.

      • Investment wasted

        It’s an endless cycle. Whatever they do during the year that it’ll be closed will just be negated when the “ravers” come back and trample all over the place.

      • Money, money, money!

        The new park (renovation) will begin in 2014 and it will include space for large scale concerts. Live Nation and the State Park are already working on the new design.

  3. Comparable to a train wreck? Get a grip lady!

  4. Money, money, money!

    Socioeconomic status plays an important part of this equation. People around here need to worry about jobs and families. They don’t want to battle the state, nor do we have the money to hire lawyers like the affluent residents in the hills. Local and state politicians allowed this by turning the other way when this was on the table and now they point the finger at each other. It is very disappointing that our voted public servants do not represent or stand up for us. Shame on them!

    Is the hotline in Spanish and Chinese? The complaints and noise issues are self regulated– of course the complaints have dropped!

    In affluent communities with concert venues (Hollywood Bowl and Greek), the venue promoters respect and work with residents to minimize quality of life issues. They have 10:30 cut off times, provide barricades and security in the residential areas among other things. The Environmental Impact Report for the Los Angeles State Park specifically addresses the issues of sound mitigation and has specific restrictions of what is not acceptable. This is about MONEY as you can see from Mr. Yu’s quotes. This park in generating funds for businesses, state park and others– at our expense.

    Hargreaves Associates designed the new LASHP a few years back—that design was discarded and did not include a space for large concerts. Now the State Park officials, their design team and Live Nation have designed a new park— complete with a large concert space, parking for such events and wiring for sound. I’m sorry, that is no longer a State Park.

  5. 7 people called who gives a S#$t? This is a major city and the money is a huge benefit tthe economy, local and beyond. If you cant deal with an inconvenience a few times a year move. It was the same with Sunset Junction. I lived a couple blocks away and yes it was a hassle but great for the community. I mean its me me me all the time now. Does anyone think about the greater good anymore.

    • It’s a huge benefit to the promoters- Live Nation and Golden Voice! Sunset Junction is not a rave fest. Sunset Junction is also a commercial area. LASHP is a State Park- wildlife and pretty flowers.

      • Yhea its a huge benefit for the promoters and like any business a huge and expensive risk. And they should make money so what good for them. And as George Wu ( the guy who actually knows about the economics) states the the four major concerts make more than the other three dozen smaller events combined for the park alone plus as he points out other local businesses who then put some of that money back into the community. He also pointed out the things he’s done to mitigate the noise, other ideas under consideration and how the complaints have dramatically been reduced. By all accounts they are sensitive to compromise. The truth is LA is full of a small group of hardcore NYMBYS who will complain about anything that inconveniences them personally in the slightest. Even if it where proven to them it benefits the local economy they would still be against it. Its four days a year people deal with it.

        • Chinatown reps, specifically the president of the Chinatown Business Improvement District should not be mitigating for the resident of Solano Canyon. They should have reached out to the people in the canyon. As for the the guy who actually knows the economics– he should also tell you that the LASHP is also funding 3 other parks! That is not mentioned in the article. If we put all the cards on the table, then it’s fair to say that one concert per year will cover the cost. I think the residents can live with that. If the state wants to pimp out the other 3 like they do the LASHP… go for it.

    • Unfortunately, instead of incurring the economic costs of implementing actual noise abatement measures, those who covet quick and easy money from this for-profit enterprise conducted on public land, want to reap their full profit at the expense of passing all of the resulting backwash onto the adjacent residents.

      Sadly, Mr. Yu’s comments also confirm the failed Reganomics type of “tickle down” thinking used to justify these purely commercial events that only serve to benefit the pockets of a very chosen few.

      For those who are unaware, these concerts are immensely LOUD and DISTURBING. Which of course is why the Coachella and Burning Man events are held where they are.

      What we are looking at here is the pursuit of profit maximization by implementing an event, which ducks the corresponding economic costs of acting responsibly towards others.

      That is the objection.

  6. The land is supposed to be a state park– a place where people can bring their families and run and play. The money that the park “really really needs” is just to make more permanent installations for concerts in the future. So it’s just a disgusting cycle of loud noise, trampling the dirt, then saying “we need money to restore it”. It’s all for profit and not for the community. Weddings and other small, private events would be great to have there, and wouldn’t require additional parking or pavement. There is also a California native plant garden on the north side of the park that is renewing the soil, restoring it from its formerly dead state into a flourishing system. Those who want to change the park want to bulldoze that area, cut down trees, etc. The consciousness of the people is shown by the way they treat the living things around them. Let’s support the plants and animals supported by the park, the 1000s who visit it for exercise, play, mental health, etc., not the big business people and the 100 people who are employed a few times a year for a concert.

  7. Twelve Words or Less

    These music festivals are (1) legal (2) economically favorable and (3) utterly unneighborly. Godspeed, Sara.

  8. Yeah, Lets drive more business out of California!!
    Just like EDC in Nevada now…..

  9. parks are for people

    The State Park is intended for people, not promoters, and certainly not rock concerts that start at 12 noon and go until midnight for 2-3 consecutive days. The Environmental Impact Report for the original park design states that events involving excessive decibel levels should not last longer than a duration of 20 minutes. It is truly disheartening to think that a middle ground cannot be achieved that considers the needs of the adjacent community. I don’t believe there is a precedent for these kind of events being held on a regular basis in a public park. I would hope that our city and state government representatives would acknowledge both sides of the argument and support their constituents. Unlike the Hollywood Bowl and Greek Theatre, venues that were built with the express purpose of hosting concerts, the State Park was not intended for this use. At a minimum, reasonable limits should be put in place and enforced regarding cut off times and attendance numbers and frequency of events.

  10. @all of you who want to ban the concerts, but want so many other wonderful things done with the park:

    i assume you’re willing to pay more in taxes to make that a reality, right? wait…what’s that? no, you don’t want your taxes raised? huh.

    well, concerts it is, then.

  11. Someone please inform the State Park that this is not Panama and that General Noriega does not live here.

  12. There always has to be a ferris wheel at these things.

  13. Here is the official State Park “Unified Vision” Report….


    …with a tribute to the historical story of Solano Canyon….

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