KAABOO growth won’t require new permit

DEL MAR — Thanks, in part, to significant use of alternative transportation options, the 22nd District Agricultural Association will not be required to amend its California Coastal Commission permits for KAABOO Del Mar, despite an anticipated annual increase in attendance at the three-day entertainment and arts festival.

“KAABOO had indicated that they might be growing so quickly that they were going to exceed the limitations in our existing permits that basically (say) we can’t have any event in the non-summer months that requires offsite parking,” fair board Director David Watson said at the Dec. 12 meeting.

“So we were gearing up to go through that relatively difficult, complicated process to do the environmental analysis and apply for the permit,” he added.

But according to Watson, KAABOO officials made those statements prematurely.

“Now that they’ve had three years of information gathering they have discovered, much to their pleasure and, frankly our pleasure, that they have projected out that even as they do grow they are going, in their opinion, to live within the parking constraints of the permit,” he said.

Because of “remarkable usage” of Uber, Lyft, shuttles, the train and other public transportation, nearly 60 percent of attendees do not drive to the event, Watson said, so the fairgrounds will continue to have excess onsite parking at least until 2022.

The new information gives KAABBOO organizers and the 22nd DAA “breathing room and time,” Watson said, if and when the permits need to be amended.

“From my perspective this is excellent news … because a lot of pain and effort and toil and tears and almost bloodshed was expended to get those permits approved in 2013,” he added. “So the fact that we may not have to upend them or change them in the next few years is very good news.

“It also means we’re not going to have to spend any money to do it so that’s also good news,” Watson said.

KAABOO, a three-day event that has been held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds every September since 2015, has been described as a “uniquely curated adult escape sound voyage” offering music, comedy, cuisine, craft libations, contemporary art and personal indulgences.

More than 100 entertainers perform on seven stages throughout the weekend. The average attendee is 38 years old. Ticket prices range from a little more than $100 to $3,000.

The 2018 event will be held Sept. 14 to Sept. 16.

The initial goal was to attract 40,000 attendees per day, slightly more than the number of people who attend opening day of the summer thoroughbred racing season.

The first year total attendance during the three days was estimated to be 50,000 people. That number increased by about 10,000 the following year. Average daily attendance for the 2017 event was a little more than 40,000.

According to the contract approved last year between KAABOO and the 22nd DAA, which governs the fairgrounds, when attendance reaches a three-day average of 60,000 people the fairgrounds will receive a $25,000 bonus. If attendance hits 65,000 or 70,000 the district will receive $50,000 or $70,000, respectively.

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