Board of Public Works Denies Sunset Junction a Permit for This Weekend's Event [Updated]


Update, 4:00 p.m.: Sunset Junction organizers have released a statement, posted in full at the end of this post. An excerpt: "Sunset Junction repeatedly asked for an itemization of city fees and once they were received, found that the fees were inflated more than 10 times that of comparable LA festivals.  They also found that the fees for the police seemed to be questionably inflated... Sunset Junction has every intention of paying the city fees that it justifiably owes; the non-profit simply asks for a fair and just accounting that is comparable to other citywide events."


A permit for this weekend's Sunset Junction Music Festival was denied for the second time this week, likely canceling the event for the first time since it began 31 years ago. At issue was unpaid permit fees for this and last year's event, totaling nearly $400,000.

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Festival organizers said they raised enough money over the last two days to cover fees for this weekend's event, but did not have the $141,000 on hand. Instead, a bank faxed an account ledger during the middle of today's Board of Public Works meeting that showed there was enough money, but some recent deposits had yet to clear. A lawyer for the festival said a check could be delivered on Thursday, one day after today's deadline set by the board during its meeting on Monday.

"This is a remarkable disappoint," said board president Andrea Alarcón. "We've given you opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to come clean, to make it right. This is far short to making it right."

Festival organizers dispute the $267,000 bill for the 2010 festival, specifically over police services, but the city has stood by its fees.

Sunset Junction began in 1980 as a way to ease tension between gangs and the gay community in Silver Lake. Run by a nonprofit, the once-free neighborhood event has turned into a commercial-like affair, garnering major headliners and a $25 door entrance fee each day (cheaper prices if bought earlier online), all which has worn down community relations. Head organizer Michael McKinley testified on Monday that the event supports community beautification and programs like a soccer league that benefit at-risk youth. The event and its 11 months of planning is a jobs training program in itself, he explained.

"It seems to be that the event has outgrown the support of the community and outgrown the support of the council office," said board member Valerie Lynne Shaw, the sole dissenter on Monday, but who voted against the permits today.

One city representative told KCET a denial meant the festival was probably canceled, but wondered about the possibility of a swift legal action.

Bands scheduled to play this weekend included KD Lang, Hanson, Bobby Womack, Butthole Surfers, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Ozomatli.


The photo used on this post is by Flickr user erutan. It was used under a Creative Commons License.

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