Del Marians still wary of Kaaboo

Del Marians still wary of Kaaboo
The three-day Kaaboo event that will take place in September in Del Mar will feature bands as the Killers and No Doubt. Some residents are concerned over the possible noise and other issues stemming from the event. Courtesy photo

DEL MAR -— A presentation that provided specific details about Kaaboo quelled some fears but didn’t eliminate all the concerns of Del Mar residents, who say their city will be most impacted by the inevitable traffic, noise and security issues from the three-day “music voyage” scheduled to begin Sept. 18 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

“Obviously there’s a lot of planning that’s gone on here, and I don’t discount that,” Bill Michalsky said following the presentation at the June 15 council meeting. “But I’m concerned about the things that haven’t been recognized.”

Michalsky’s issues include security around the San Dieguito Lagoon and river mouth.

“There will be people who will try to enjoy some of this offsite” along San Dieguito Drive and the Grand Avenue Bridge overlook, he said. “I don’t feel comfortable with that right now.”

“I hope it’s a benefit to the surrounding communities and Del Mar, but I have concerns that I hope will be addressed,” Michalsky added.

“I hope them success but I also hope success … and security for our residents,” Robin Crabtree, who lives in the Beach Colony, said. “I’m concerned about people being on the beach. I’m concerned about people driving down (Camino del Mar) and leaving at 2:30 in the morning and using CdM as their thoroughfare and honking and screaming.”

Crabtree said with all the area hotel rooms booked for the event, attendees will be staying in short-term rentals. She has concerns about those people walking home after midnight with a “let’s-keep-the-party-going” attitude.

She said the organizers “need to make sure residents at least have some quality of life through these three days.”

“I would like a community meeting in the beach community,” she said. “When you see how close we really are you will maybe think a couple of things differently.”

Crabtree said she also wanted assurance that exiting traffic would be directed to the freeway and not through the beach area.

“I don’t really want to be awakened at 2:30, 3 o’clock in the morning with some people that are screaming and yelling,” she said. “It’s not fun.”

Julie Coleman, project manager with HorsePower LLC, which is producing Kaaboo, said her company is already planning a large community meeting, but will consider smaller get-togethers as well.

“We are respectful neighbors,” she said during a similar presentation to the fairgrounds board of directors in April. “We are well-known for our commitment to work with neighbors to build relationships and adhere to community standards.”

Kaboo, described on its website as an “adult escape” and arts and entertainment “mix-perience,” is expected to attract about 40,000 people per day.

It will feature more than 100 bands on seven stages — the lineup includes a variety of music genres with acts such as No Doubt, Killers, Snoop Dogg, Foster the People and Counting Crows — and offer upscale dining, an art fair, and an area called Indulgences that provides massages, henna tattoos and hair and nail services.

Coleman said the target demographic is 25 to 55 years old, with 38 being the current average age of ticket buyers.

The event is expected to generate approximately $1.5 million in sales tax, with about $70,000 of that going to Del Mar.

The event will benefit local charities, including the San Dieguito Boys & Girls Clubs, Feeding America, the San Diego Music Foundation and the San Diego Surfrider Foundation.

To help reduce the back-up of cars trying to enter the venue, event-day parking will not be available at the fairgrounds. Parking fees will not be collected at the entrance. Only vehicles with prepaid parking passes will be allowed onsite. All others must use off-site lots.

A free shuttle service will be provided from the Solana Beach train station. The organizers are partnering with public transit providers to offer bundled transit with the admission pass.

Attendees who arrive with more than three people in a vehicle will receive food tickets and late-night party discounts. A complimentary bike valet will be located near the entrance.

Programming has been staggered so the in-flow should resemble a slow day at the fair, Coleman said.

The event must follow all local noise ordinances. To help keep sound at a minimum the organizers are using a national sound engineering expert to conduct testing and develop a plan to mitigate noise in the neighborhood, Coleman said.

Indoor stages will direct sound away from surrounding neighborhoods and feature modified sound levels and temporary insulation to help keep the sound on the fairgrounds property, she added.

All outside entertainment will end at 10 p.m. Indoor entertainment that will include comedy shows and dance parties will stop at 2:30 a.m.

“I think that you’re going to find that their sound is not going to carry,” Becky Bartling, deputy general manager for the fairgrounds, said. “They’ll also have sound blankets for the large stage like we have for the races, and that’s mitigated a lot of that sound.”

Bartling said the sound will be monitored throughout the event and a customer service line will be set up to address complaints immediately.

Some people were less than convinced the efforts to mitigate noise would be successful.

“I’m not comforted that we’re not going to have a noise issue,” Mayor Al Corti said.

“Make sure you have people with good hearing next to the sound engineers because they are all deaf,” Councilman Terry Sinnott said. “They have been in too many concerts. … Their ears are blown out and so they raise the decibel level just because they can’t hear.

“Don’t wait for the telephone call,” he added. “Just give them a heads up that this is getting out of hand.”

The organizers have been working with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department to provide additional law enforcement.

“No resources will be pulled from the local communities to provide services, such as EMT, police or ambulance,” Coleman said.

Onsite lodging will be available for a few hundred people willing to pay between $3,500 and $35,000 per person to spend four nights in luxury tents or campers. That area will be patrolled 24/7, Coleman said.

Following the presentation not everyone remained wary of the event.

“This kind of came upon our city … as a surprise,” KC Vafiadis said. “I think it’s a wonderful surprise. I think it’s got great opportunity for our businesses.”

She said the organizers have addressed all the concerns and “jumped through every hoop.”

“It’s time to just let them do what they’re going to do,” she added. “I hope that they prove that they were right. They’ve just really been put through it to be honest with you and I think I’m very excited for them and I hope they do really well.”

“This doesn’t appear to be a fly-by-night operation,” Greg Glassman, who owns Zel’s restaurant, said. “I think we’ve got to give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Former Mayor Richard Earnest said Kaaboo will be a good opportunity for Del Mar to prepare for The Breeders’ Cup in 2017.

“Different kind of an audience, different kind of a venue,” he said. “But still we’re going to have the issues that we’re going to have with Kaaboo so I hope we really pay attention and learn what we need to learn from this event so we can use that to prepare ourselves for The Breeders’ Cup.”

“I feel a lot better based on a lot of the work that’s been done,” Sinnott said, adding that there are still a few concerns.

“I’m hoping in the months ahead we can work together,” he added. “We are going to have similar kinds of events in the future so let’s do this one right.”

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