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LA Rec and Parks Working Under the Radar to Get 200,000-Attendee Music Festival Into Valley Wildlife Area … Audubon Society Fuming

THIS IS WHAT I KNOW--The San Fernando Valley Audubon Society Conservation Committee has been laser-focused on halting the permitting of a Coachella-like music event proposed for October 7-9, 2016, which will be held in Woodley Park and the entire eastern area of the Sepulveda Wildlife Area. The committee is concerned about the impact 200,000 attendees, pyrotechnics, high-volume acoustics, and broad, intense lighting might have on area wildlife. 

 

In what seems to be a less than transparent attempt, the LA Parks and Recreation Department has requested a waiver from the Army Corps of Engineers to hold the three-day festival. After some back and forth, the Army Corps is expected to review the decision in mid to late April. “Due to the comments the Corps reviewers provided to the AngelFest proponents’ Contractor preparing the Environmental Assessment and issues to be addressed, the anticipated public review period is behind schedule,” a Corps spokesperson said. 

The group producing AngelFest has been working quietly for two years and is close to the end of the permitting process for the festival, which is expected to bring over 65,000 people a day, along with drug and alcohol use, traffic, noise, very loud music, and potential harm to wildlife. Neighbors and activists worry once the door is opened, mega-events will be the norm. 

With ticket prices proposed at $125 per person for a three-day pass, the Parks and Recreation Department stands to make lots of money from the event. Naturally, the department is in favor of the concert. According to the Audubon Society, Mayor Garcetti also supports the three-day festival. 

Jim Houghton of Clark Gable Estates notes that Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve is one of the best designed and most accessible spaces in the city set aside for resident and migratory birds. Now that the Army Corps of Engineers has been asked to approve permitting for the Coachella-like festival, the protected nature of the wildlife reserves may be at risk. “Three of five planned music stages, with huge amplifiers, intense lighting, and pyrotechnic displays will abut our precious and unique Wildlife Reserve,” adds Houghton. 

The festival is planned October, in the middle of the fall migration season. Birds depend on the Reserves open space and natural lake for rest and nutrition during their southern migration. The area will face disruption for a total of 26 days, including set-up and tear-down. A large part of the eastern basin will be unavailable for “normal and customary use.” In addition to the environmental impact on wildlife, safety is an issue for neighbors who are concerned about extensive drug and alcohol use during the festival. 

Should we support the co-opting of our open space for a cash buyout, placing wildlife at risk, and turning Woodley Park and Sepulveda Basin into a mecca for large-scale concert events? 

As the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society appeals, “In all of LA County, there must be a better place to stage a music festival than right up against a nature preserve!” 

To voice your opinion on the proposed festival and its environmental and neighborhood impact, sign the SFV Audubon petition at www.sfvaudubon.com

 

(Beth Cone Kramer is a successful Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.)

-cw