Kaaboo organizers lay out their plan before Del Mar council, residents


Continuing their effort to address community concerns about a three-day music festival in September at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Kaaboo organizers recently gave a presentation to Del Mar council members and citizens.

Event organizers have already given presentations to the 22nd District Agricultural Association Board, which governs the state-owned facility, the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board and the Solana Beach City Council.

“We understand how beautiful your community is,” said Julie Coleman, of Denver-based The Madison Companies, LLC, owner of HorsePower Entertainment, the company that is producing Kaaboo. “We want to do the best we can to make sure we address the community concerns to make sure Kaaboo is successful as well as the impacts to Del Mar are mitigated.”

Described on the event website as a “mix-perience,” the festival will feature more than 100 performances on seven stages from Sept. 18-20. The lineup includes a variety of genres with acts such as No Doubt, The Killers, Zac Brown Band, Train, Snoop Dogg and Foster the People. The festival will also offer comedy acts, an art fair, massages, hair and nail services, and food and beverages. A small VIP reception is also planned for Sept. 17.

During the June 15 Del Mar City Council meeting, Coleman explained that Kaaboo is expected to attract about 40,000 people per day.

Single-day tickets are not available, but will be on sale later this summer, Coleman said.

Prices for three-day passes range from $199 to $2,499, but many of the lower-priced options have already sold out. VIP experiences such as full-service, on-site lodging are offered for as much as $12,000.

The festival is geared for people ages 25 to 55, Coleman said. She noted that the average ticket buyer is 38 years old.

“Our target demographic is a lot different from other music festivals in the country,” Coleman said. “This is a totally different experience.”

In preparation of the festival, organizers have met with representatives from the fairgrounds and the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach to develop plans to mitigate noise, traffic and safety impacts.

The event must adhere to local noise ordinances. Therefore, outside entertainment will end at 10 p.m. Indoor entertainment will end at 2:30 a.m.

To help reduce sound, Coleman said organizers are working with a national sound engineering expert to conduct testing and develop a plan to mitigate noise levels in the neighborhood. Outdoor stages will be directed away from the surrounding neighborhoods, while indoor stages will feature modified sound levels and temporary insulation to contain the sound within the spaces.

“We’re well aware of the noise ordinance and what the rules are, and we are here to follow them,” Coleman said.

“I think that you’re going to find that the sound is not going to carry the way that they’re putting it together,” added Becky Bartling, deputy general manager of the fairgrounds.

As for traffic, a team including 10 traffic deputies and 60 traffic controllers will help alleviate congestion.

Attendees must purchase on-site parking passes in advance. Those without prepaid parking passes will have to use off-site lots.

Messaging will be mailed along with event wristbands. Signs directing traffic to off-site lots will also be posted on the freeway and roads.

“I think that’s great,” said Mayor Al Corti. “I think the fairgrounds should look into that as well. This may be a good test for the city and for the fairgrounds to see how that might work in the future.”

Event organizers have partnered with public transit providers to offer bundled transit with admission. A free shuttle service will also be provided from the Solana Beach train station.

Encouraging carpooling, attendees who arrive with three or more people in a vehicle will receive food tickets and late-night party discounts. A free bike valet will also be located near the event entrance.

The safety and security of patrons, neighbors and employees is a top priority, Coleman said, so Kaaboo will have its own emergency services personnel and resources that will not be pulled from local communities. Organizers, however, are working with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department to make sure personnel are aware of and understand the plans they have in place.

About 70 deputies will be available from approximately 4-11 p.m. on event days, said Pat Kerins, chief of security for the fairgrounds. Of those 70 deputies, two deputies will be assigned to Del Mar and Solana Beach to patrol the perimeter and address Kaaboo-related situations.

“Having the extra patrol really allows our regular deputies to pull back from the event area and work the other areas of the town,” said City Manager Scott Huth. “So I think the combination of the two is going to give us pretty good coverage.”

Security plans also address the overnight visitors who will stay at the fairgrounds.

The festival will include onsite accommodations for as many as several hundred people in the infield, Coleman said. She noted that overnight visitors are paying several thousands of dollars for the accommodations.

“It’s a really elevated experience and more a high-end crowd that’s going to be staying over,” she said.

“The Madison Companies is well known for our commitment to working with our neighbors to build relationships,” Coleman added. “We want to work and be collaborative with the city and with the residents, and be respectful of our surroundings as well as come up with collaborative ideas of how we can work together to mitigate the traffic, noise and safety impacts.”

The event is expected to generate about $1.5 million in sales tax on merchandise, food and beverage, and vending. More than $70,000 of the revenue will go to the city of Del Mar, Coleman said.

Event organizers have already booked more than 1,000 room nights in Del Mar hotels, Coleman said. Kaaboo will also employ about 2,500 people from the local area.

Coleman said she expects the event not only to bring an economic boost to the community, but also raise the profile of Del Mar and the surrounding communities. A study of a similar event in Delaware, she said, contributed more than $68 million to the regional economy and created the equivalent of 579 full-time jobs.

“It’s yet to be determined what Kaaboo can do,” she said, “but we’re excited to see next year what those numbers are.”

The event will also benefit local charities.

Organizers are donating $1 per pass and matching contributions to Kaaboo’s charitable program, “Kindness.” Funds from a silent auction at the VIP event will also benefit the program.

Funds raised will benefit Feeding America San Diego, San Diego Armed Services YMCA, San Diego Music Foundation and the San Diego County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Kaaboo organizers hope to donate at least $100,000, Coleman said.

After hearing the presentation, resident Robin Crabtree said she was still concerned about potential impacts. She hoped the festival was successful, but she also hoped the residents had a good time, too.

“We need to think out how can we make sure that the residents at least have some quality of life through these three days,” she said.

Crabtree asked that event organizers hold meetings with neighbors, to which Coleman agreed. Coleman said organizers are already planning a large community meeting and would be happy to hold additional smaller community meetings.

“We’d be happy to answer any of the residents’ questions or concerns and work with them as much as we can to address those concerns,” she said.

A couple of local business owners said they were looking forward to the festival.

“I think it’s got great opportunity for our businesses,” said KC Vafiadis.

“I know that there have been many people who have had so many questions and concerns, and they have addressed every one of them,” she added. “They’ve jumped through every hoop, and I think it’s time to just let them do what they are going to do.”

Greg Glassman, owner of local restaurant Zel’s Del Mar, said he thinks the festival will have a positive effect on the city.

“This doesn’t appear to be a fly-by-night operation,” he said. “These guys have really thought this out, from my standpoint. I think we’ve got to give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Richard Earnest, a former Del Mar mayor, who now serves as board president of the Del Mar Village Association, pointed out that the event would be a “really good test” for the Breeders’ Cup, which is headed to Del Mar in 2017.

“I’d just like to thank the Kaaboo group and the fairgrounds,” said Councilman Terry Sinnott. “I feel a lot better based on a lot of the work that’s been done, but you’ve obviously heard a few of the concerns that are still out there. I’m hoping in the months ahead we can work together.

“We are going to have similar events in the future, so let’s do this one right,” he added. “We’ll support you every way we can.”

For questions or concerns, email communityinfo@kaaboodelmar.com. During the event, community members can also call 858-792-1104.

For information about Kaaboo, visit kaaboodelmar.com.