BEACH LOTS — Debate surrounding the use of beach lots for private events is heating up and city officials have responded by banning them in some locations.
Earlier this month Daily Press columnist Jack Neworth complained about an event, Vegan Ocktoberfest, which was noisy late into the night.
In his column, Neworth said that City Hall catered more favorably to private vendors than to his needs as a resident.
On Tuesday, Councilmember Kevin McKeown added a discussion item to this week’s council agenda directing city officials to “either to relocate events scheduled for beach lots near residences to other locations where they will be less disruptive, effective immediately, or take other immediate action sufficient to protect residents against unacceptable impacts.”
On Wednesday, Karen Ginsberg, director of Community and Cultural services, announced immediate changes to the community events guidelines at the beach lots. In her report, Ginsberg acknowledged that city workers screwed up at the Ocktoberfest.
Event organizers were supposed to be packed up and out of there by dusk.
“Unfortunately, City staff working the event provided erroneous information to the event organizer and allowed them to break down the event well beyond the hours specified on the Event Permit,” Ginsberg said in her report. “Neighbors complained about the excessive noise from the late night/early morning move out activities.”
The music ended at 6 p.m. and speakers were pointed away from the residences, Ginsberg said, but it was loud and went on for a long time.
This isn’t the first time there’s been an issue with an event at one of the beach lots.
In March, Nike held an event that started with jackhammering early in the morning and ended with honking forklifts at 10:30 p.m. The jackhammer, as a side note, wrecked the parking lot, which may need to be resurfaced as a result.
In April, City Hall tightened guidelines for beach lot events, banning them in the summer and allowing them once a month during the other seasons. Set-up and clean-up needed to be taken care of between 8 a.m. and dusk, which didn’t happen for the Vegan Ocktoberfest.
In August, they added restrictions to events held at the Santa Monica Pier parking lot: All concert events with more than 500 attendee must be sponsored or cosponsored by City Hall.
Now, Ginsberg said, they are closing 2600 Barnard Way (where Vegan Ocktoberfest was held) and 2030 Ocean Ave. (where the Nike event was held) to private events. Only events co-sponsored by City Hall can be held on the lots.
“It is clear that the negative noise impacts of large scale events in the south beach parking lots outweigh the benefits of having these types of events in these parking lots,” Ginsberg said.
There are some events, like the Independent Spirit Award and the Latin Food Fest Grand Tasting, which are already on the calendar and will get a pass next year. But after that, they’ll have to find a new home.
Additionally, event restrictions have been added to Beach Park 1 and Ocean View Park, limiting them to eight total events each year. There have already been 11 events held at these two venues this year. There were 16 last year and 14 the year before that.
At a recent city meeting, representatives from the Los Angeles Marathon got a chilly response to their proposal to move the finish-line of the race to the 1550 Beach Lot, right next to the Santa Monica Pier.
The 1550 lot is not one of those banned by the new regulations, but pier lessees were very opposed, in general, to the move. In one of its first years in Santa Monica, the marathon ended at the lot and it was mess for the businesses.
Marathon runners and their families didn’t seem to want to spend money on the pier during or after the race. Tourists who did want to get to the pier couldn’t find parking. Lessees were amenable to having the finish-line festival on the pier itself, but city officials said it could pose a threat to public safety.