The winds of the internet blow a cruel, cruel tale. "LA Denies Permit for Sunset Junction Music Festival." Unsurprisingly, it's all about money. According to The Wall Street Journal, the festival owes the city money for last year's festival and over a hundred thousand dollars in advance fees for this year's festival - the one that is supposed to take place THIS weekend.
The festival has been around for 30 years and is produced by the Sunset Junction Alliance, a non-profit that uses all the proceeds from the annual festival on programs for at-risk youth (including gang intervention) in the neighborhood where the festival takes place.
I was astonished to read that up until a couple of years ago, the festival fees were around $25,000. Why the sudden change? Could it be the increasing number of attendees and the sale of alcohol... or could it be Andrea Alarcon? She was appointed to LA's Board of Public Works in September of 2009 and is the administrator for the Special Events Permitting Office. Apparently, in the past the city waived some of the festival's fees, but since the advent of Miz Alarcon, it's all or nothing.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Alarcon cited the cost of extra police officers and a 2009 ordinance forbidding waiver of fees. Although the festival organizers offered to pay $50,000, Alarcon was quoted as saying that if they do not come up with all of this year's fees in advance, the city will not be willing to reconsider "the item." The "item" being a major fundraising source for the at-risk youth of her city, not to mention an important and historical artistic event.
Issues such as these are complicated and I don't want to create a bad guy, but it does make me wonder: Would this would this be happening if Leslie Knope were in charge instead?
I leave it to you to decide. If you want to help by donating some moolah to the cause, click here.
(Information gathered from TheWrap.com, The Wall Street Journal, SunsetJunction.org, and LACity.org.)