REGION — With KAABOO Del Mar a little more than two months away, organizers of the three-day entertainment festival are reaching out to neighboring cities to share lessons learned from the inaugural event and improvements that will make it better this time around.
“We’re excited about it,” Julie Coleman, director of community relations for KAABOO, said during a June 22 presentation to the Solana Beach City Council. “We feel like it provides a great entertainment experience for the whole community.”
Highlighting the positive impacts the event, held Sept. 18 through Sept. 20 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, had on Solana Beach in 2015, Coleman noted the city’s nearly 300 hotel rooms were filled.
KAABOO also used Solana Beach businesses such as Watershape Consulting, Hookit, Choice Juicery and Pamplemousse Grill.
While all sales tax revenue generated from purchases at the fairgrounds goes to Del Mar, Coleman said she spoke to off-site retail stores.
“Some of the local businesses I talked to said that their sales were approximately the same as last year, and some of them said it was better,” Coleman said. “But I haven’t heard directly anybody that said that they had a worse weekend than they’ve had in previous years.”
KAABOO donated nearly $73,000 to local charities, including the San Diego Music Foundation, which funds guitars for schools, the San Diego Armed Forces, Voices for Children and Surfrider Foundation. The goal is to increase the charitable donation this year to $150,000.
While none are specific to Solana Beach, Coleman said most provide indirect benefits to the city. She the city’s charitable organizations, such as the Del Sol Lions Club, can sell tickets and receive a percentage of those sales.
Coleman said there were no complaints last year about traffic, parking or safety. Organizers will use the same plans that include a shuttle service to the Solana Beach train station, a bike valet, incentives for carpooling and website messages to deter visitors from parking in residential areas.
“We can’t obviously police the neighborhoods,” she said. “What we can do is ask our guests to please not park there. And if there’s anything the city would like us to do in support of that we’d be happy to entertain it.”
Coleman said the only complaints during the inaugural event were about noise, but only one of the 91 calls received came from Solana Beach.
“We’re well aware of the issues and the community’s unhappiness with that problem last year,” she said.
To address noise issues Coleman said the last show on Sunday this year will end one hour earlier with a “much more mellow artist that’ll be quieter.”
“We also have sole control over the sound,” she said. “We want to make sure we don’t have any artists turning up the dial. … They are not allowed to touch it.”
There will also be an independent monitoring system in the community.
“We’re going to have roving personnel going through the community neighborhoods to monitor the sound noise and report directly back to the Del Mar Fairgrounds,” Coleman said. “Last year we just had a static sound system that just sent us text alerts. We did know what the issue was, how much we were over, et cetera.
“So this year we’re going to have a much better system in place to be able to monitor real-time, make changes and make sure we’re in compliance,” she added.
Other improvements will include repositioning some of the stages and redesigning the audio systems to address different types of sound.
“We’ve hired this really bright Ph.D. guy … to figure this out,” Coleman said.
Adjustments are also being made to improve Uber drop-off and pickup. A hotline will be available to registered complaints. All calls were responded to last year, Coleman said.
Discounted passes are available to Solana Beach and Del Mar residents.
Organizers describe KAABOO as a music and arts “mix-perience” geared for a slightly older crowd, as tickets can be pricy.
More than 50,000 people attended last year’s event, which featured more than 100 performers on seven stages. Organizers hope to at least double that for the 2016 KAABOO, which will be held Sept. 16, 17 and 18.
An informational meeting is scheduled from 7 to 8:30 p.m. July 6 in the boardroom at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.