DEL MAR — Based on the numbers, efforts by KAABOO Del Mar organizers to decrease the noise emanating from the three-day entertainment and arts festival paid off.
But Del Mar City Council members said the end results still aren’t good enough.
This year the city received six noise complaints, compared to 70 during the 2015 inaugural event.
Last year 91 people made 123 calls to a KAABOO hotline to complain about noise. This year there were 56 calls from 46 different people.
“In general I think the noise levels this year (were) a lot lower than last year,” Councilman Al Corti said at the Oct. 3 meeting. “But I take exception to the (KAABOO report) that basically indicated that there were no noise violations and I don’t think that’s a fact.”
The Del Mar Fairgrounds, where the event is held, has a noise ordinance with which all non-fair events are required to comply. It is different than Del Mar’s noise ordinance, which is not applicable to fairgrounds events.
Julie Coleman, KAABOO’s director of community relations, stated in a report to the city that noise levels at locations in Del Mar, Solana Beach and the city of San Diego “never exceeded” the Del Mar Fairgrounds’ allowable average limit of 64.6 decibels.
According to sound-monitoring data from Del Mar’s consultant, the noise averaged 74 decibels this year compared to 95 in 2015.
“They were still 10 decibels higher than the noise ordinance allows for 60 percent to 70 percent of the time,” Corti said.
“They certainly did a much better job … but they didn’t meet their own criteria and their own sound ordinance and it’s somewhat troubling that they report that they did,” Councilman Don Mosier said. “But that’s not their biggest problem.”
“On the other issues of traffic control and security … I thought they did significantly less of a job this year than they did last year,” said Corti, who lives a few blocks from the fairgrounds.
“I thought the crowd control was problematic,” he added. “Traffic management was much more difficult for us and the impact on our community.”
Councilman Dwight Worden resident Bill Michalsky agreed.
“Traffic control and impacts surrounding the event that are in our (area) got worse,” Worden said. “We need to be more assertive in the rights that we do have and work with them to fix those.”
“The whole traffic control was a nightmare,” Michalsky said. “Their traffic (plan) needs a hell of a lot of work.”
Michalsky said he took an Uber to a VIP event Thursday night, before the official start of the festival, and “could hardly get in.” He also noted a lack of off-site parking.
He suggested the organizers work with North County Transit District.
“Public transportation can really free up a lot of problems,” he said.
There was also an incident Sept. 17 when two outdoor concerts ended at the same time. When crowds from both tried to get into a venue for another performance, the entry became gridlocked and the facility filled to capacity.
Sheriff’s Lt. Mark Moreno said deputies were on hand to help guide people in and out “to prevent patrons from being injured or trampled.”
“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,” Moreno added.
Councilman Terry Sinnott said KAABOO organizers “better get their act together because that kind of situation can spill out into all sorts of other areas.”
“It can be a safety issue for the community,” he added. “They had way, way more people trying to get into certain venues and if they’re upset and had a few drinks they’re going to cause all sorts of problems.”
In addition to noise complaints, Del Mar received an email complaining about event attendees loitering and littering.
The city also received a three-page email from an attendee who complained about several issues, including drink prices, marijuana smoke, trash and crowd control.
Council members stressed that they have no control over what occurs onsite at the state-owned facility.
KAABOO received four complaints about traffic and two regarding ride-hailing services. Additionally, there were five positive calls about the noise-reduction efforts.
City staff made four recommendations to improve the event in the future.
To better direct traffic, signage should be added along Jimmy Durante Boulevard approaching the main gate, preferably positioned above the roadway for motorists to see.
An enhanced plan is needed to accommodate ride-hailing services. Off-site parking lots should be added.
Traffic control flaggers should be positioned at Camino del Mar and 15th, 13th and 11th streets to facilitate the continuous flow of traffic through the traffic signal and stop signs at the end of the event.
KAABOO Del Mar 2017 is scheduled for Sept. 15-17.