KAABOO better but still not perfect

DEL MAR — Organizers of KAABOO Del Mar spent a lot of time and money during the past year looking for ways to reduce noise, the No. 1 complaint following last year’s inaugural event.

Their efforts appear to have paid off.

There was one online comment to a story in The Coast News from a woman who said the windows in her house about 7 miles from the Del Mar Fairgrounds, where the three-day music and entertainment event is held, began shaking at 4:20 p.m. Saturday because the music was so loud.

Other than that the comments have been mostly positive.

“People were actually sad because the sound was so much lower,” said Lee Haydu, a board member of the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which governs the fairgrounds, who can see the state-owned venue from her home.

“My neighbor went outside to listen to the concerts and could barely hear anything,” she added.

The day after the event ended several people at a Sept. 19 event in Del Mar said noise was definitely not an issue this year.

In fact, Mayor Sherryl Parks said she received emails from residents thanking her because noise in their neighborhoods was minimal compared to last year.

“The sound was much better than last year,” Councilman Don Mosier said. “We haven’t seen the data yet so whether it was perfect and according to code we’ll have to wait and see. But clearly they did a lot to change the sound levels.”

Kristen Crane, the city’s management services director, said Del Mar received only a handful of calls, including a complement from a resident in the Crest Road/San Dieguito Drive area.

“Compared to last year it was a vast improvement,” Crane said. “From our perspective, we were also looking at inappropriate action and crowds at the beach or parking in the neighborhoods but there were no problems.”

Councilman Al Corti has a somewhat different opinion.

“Last year they did a good job handling traffic and safety but they had a sound problem,” he said. “This year they did a good job with sound but had a traffic and safety problem.”

Corti said it took him 30 minutes on Saturday to get to his home just blocks from the fairgrounds.

In terms of safety, he was referring to an incident that occurred Saturday night, when two outdoor concerts ended at the same time and crowds from both were trying to enter a venue for another performance.

“To label (Saturday) night’s law enforcement action as a response to a riot is overstating the situation,” Lt. Mark Moreno from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department stated in a press release. “Deputies responded to a crowd management situation that needed to be resolved as quickly as possible for the safety of all concerned.

“At the end of two concerts … thousands of patrons were exiting two different concert locations,” he wrote. “A number of the exiting patrons decided to attend an indoor concert which resulted in gridlock of that area.

“In order to open up the area, the deputies began to direct patrons out of the area in order to provide egress for those patrons desiring to leave the area and reduce the heavy congestion at the doors to the venue. When the doors to the venue were opened, the patrons began to rush the doors.

“The deputies immediately responded to that location to prevent patrons from being injured or trampled. Their actions alleviated any potential for injury and provided a safe and secure environment for staff and the patrons,” Moreno added.

“A deputy did have to deploy his Taser to ensure a main instigator was calmed as quickly as possible before the scene escalated into a much more dangerous situation.”

Overall he described the event as “very successful and peaceful.”

“There were very few incidents considering the average attendance of 30,000 patrons per day,” Moreno stated. “The arrests were for public intoxication and resisting arrest.”

KAABOO officials have yet to release exact numbers, and probably won’t because they said they prefer to not share that information.

About 50,000 people attended the inaugural event, less than half of what organizers hoped for. Unlike 2015, many of the pricy three-day passes sold out and attendees say attendance was much greater this year.

Last year 91 people called a hotline to register complaints on a machine. This year people manned the phones. On Sunday, one worker said the call volume was pretty quiet in general.

A KAABOO spokeswoman apologized to attendees who were unable to attend the shows on Saturday night.

“The (4,000-seat) venue was at capacity,” she said. “For the safety of our guests, security and the Sheriff’s Department dispersed any unruly crowds. There were no injuries. All experiences ran on schedule as planned and we’re very much looking forward to next year.”

At press time the organizers had not responded to an email request to answer other questions.

KAABOO Del Mar 2017 is scheduled for Sept. 15-17, with early-bird passes available for purchase at kaaboodelmar.com.

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