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07
Fri, Aug

The People Speak: ‘AngelFest’ Put on Hold ‘til 2017

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' request by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, the lessee of the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area, for a special event called AngelFest scheduled for October 7-9, 2016 has been delayed until 2017. The event will be “a three-day commercial family-friendly music, food, and cultural event with maximum attendance of 65,000 people per day (including approximately 1,200 workers). 

The event is developed and managed by the Make Good Group and designed to have a cross-generational and multicultural feel highlighting the unique contributions the City of Los Angeles makes to the world.” Tickets for the event are proposed to cost approximately $295 for the three days, with a portion of every ticket sold donated to the Los Angeles Parks Foundation to improve the recreational amenities within the Basin. 

During the event, five performance stages and other additional festival areas, including concessions, would be open to ticketholders at the northeast portion of the Basin including Woodley Park (I and II), the cricket fields, the archery range, the Japanese Garden, and the northern developed part of the Wildlife Area (known as Woodley III). The AngelFest is planned to end at each day by 9:45 p.m. 

After the Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared, the Corps concluded that the project was in “compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, and all applicable environmental laws and regulations. The Corps determined that the impacts resulting from the implementation of the two action alternatives evaluated in this EA would not have a significant impact upon the existing environment or the quality of the human environment; therefore, preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement is not required. This finding generated an immediate, and negative response from environmental groups. The Festival has now been rescheduled until 2017, but still remains a major source of concern to Valley residents. 

The primary purpose of the Basin “is to provide flood risk management for the residents of Los Angeles County residing downstream of Sepulveda Dam.” The Basin venue is ill equipped to handle large City-wide “entertainment” functions, concerts, outdoor spectaculars, etc. These activities interfere with the Basin’s natural habitat and negatively impact its ecosystem and environmental sustainability. The Basin is unique in that it is a flood basin, not an ordinary park. Musical festivals are incompatible with the intended purpose of the Basin.  

The San Fernando Valley Audubon Society is opposed to this event. It has expressed concerns that “Woodley commons is a deceptively complex, mostly self-contained ecosystem. Erecting a security barrier around its Wildlife Reserve during a huge event with loud music, bright lights and pyrotechnic displays does next to nothing to protect that ecosystem. From the pocket gophers that feed raptors, herons and owls to the insects and plants that feed resident and migrant bird populations, the entire park weaves a web of support that is robust yet fragile. Birds and other wildlife in the park have taken decades to acclimatize to freeway noise and airplane overflights — but five music stages blaring …, 65,000 people tramping around daily, plus all the trucks, structures, cables, generators, porta-potties and untold other hardware needed for this project, will tear the fabric of that web in ways that will in some cases be felt for years, or forever.”           

The obvious environmental destruction clearly offsets the economic benefits gained. The Basin should be restricted to low density recreational uses that do not impact the natural ecosystem of the Basin. The comment period still remains open from April 12, 2016 to May 27, 2016. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. on May 27th. Direct comments to: AngelFest.2016@usace.army.mil. Contact Deborah Lamb, Deborah.L.Lamb@usace.army.mil or at (213) 452-3798 for information. Documents may be viewed at this Army Corps of Engineers website.      

 

(Gerald A. Silver is President of Homeowners of Encino. He served on the Citizens Advisory Committee that helped craft the Ventura Blvd. Specific Plan. He can be reached at lgsilver4@earthlink.net.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.