3-day music festival hits wrong note with Del Mar City Council, some residents

A three-day music, food and drink festival is headed to the Del Mar Fairgrounds — and the city of Del Mar had no clue.

Announced last week, the inaugural Kaaboo Del Mar festival features seven stages and more than 100 music acts and performances over the weekend of Sept. 18-20. But when the public first heard about the star-studded lineup, so did Del Mar.

“We weren’t aware of it, and we weren’t happy with it either,” said Mayor Al Corti, in response to residents who have questioned why they didn’t have a heads-up.

Concerned about noise, traffic, safety and other potential impacts, Del Mar resident Robin Crabtree asked the council to protect the community.

“I’m a little disappointed that this is already going,” Crabtree said. “It’s already out there, you can already buy tickets and this is the first that the Del Mar residents are hearing about it.

“I look to you, council members, to please protect us.”

City Manager Scott Huth said he received a call from a festival representative on March 2, seeking to set up a meeting with a council member and city staff the following Monday, March 9. Huth said he has also talked with sheriff’s Capt. Theresa Adams-Hydar about the city’s safety concerns.

“We really don’t have a lot of information,” Huth said. “That’s our problem. That’s our issue with the fairgrounds and the Kaaboo organizers.”

The 22nd District Agricultural Association Board approved a $1.95 million contract with HorsePower Entertainment, the festival’s organizer, at its Feb. 10 meeting.

At that time, Tim Fennell, CEO and general manager of the association, said that after expenses for security and other services, the district should generate more than $1 million in revenue from food and beverage sales, parking and other sources. Also, he said the festival would provide an economic boost for local hotels, restaurants and other businesses.

“There are impacts to our community, and we’re not seeing the benefit,” Corti said. “To the extent they can sit there and say, ‘We’re going to get a couple extra hotel rooms and a couple of people in the restaurants,’ doesn’t cut it from my perspective.”

Corti, who now serves as a council liaison on the 22nd District Agricultural Association Community Relations Committee, noted he attended his first meeting the day before the festival was announced, yet the event was not discussed. Council members from Del Mar and Solana Beach, and representatives from the district sit on the committee.

“That bothers me,” Corti said. “There doesn’t seem a desire, on the fair board, to have this discussion with the community.

“It continues to go on. They continue to have whatever events they want. They deal with the impacts as they see fit. And they say, ‘By the way, we’re coming into your community.’ I just don’t think that’s right. I don’t know how to fix it, but I know by being silent about it, it’s not going to get addressed.”

Corti plans to address the issue at the next Community Relations Committee. He or another council member will also join city staff in a meeting with the festival promoter next week. Corti and city staff plan to update the full council on the matter at the next meeting on March 16.

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