Culture Change in the Rose Bowl

28 Jun

Festival EIR Mtg

Culture Change for the Rose Bowl  

Pasadena’s venerable 92-year old Rose Bowl sports stadium is side-winding into the trend of “music festivals.” Decided on the merits of financial needs arising from stadium renovations, these three-day festivals are intended as “long term and stable” arrangements with music promoters, financially allowing the Rose Bowl to complete substantial renovations by 2018, as agreed in contractual arrangements with UCLA and, to build reserves for maintenance.

Changes to Central Arroyo public use and prohibitions of public use prior-to, during and following these events are expected to be radical, affecting all recreational uses, including the Aquatics Center and Kidspace Children’s Museum.

At a recent impact-scoping meeting with Rose Bowl and city staff, recognition of the significant culture change to the Central Arroyo prompted a stated claim that the city now is committed to a new, full Environmental Impact Report (EIR). This commitment replaces an earlier comfort with only a “subsequent” EIR, piggy-backed onto impact findings related to a NFL presence.

For consideration over the next few weeks:

  1. Because the Rose Bowl now is committed to hosting long-term, displacement-level “trending events” to generate revenue, City Council must establish non-negotiable standards related to: total number of booked weekend events during summer months, ingress/egress to the Central Arroyo/Rose Bowl, securing Central Arroyo boundaries, check-points, parking/drop-off/shuttle service routes, hours of operation for all services, maximum attendance, food and drink restrictions, overhead helicopter traffic, numbers of police and security, medical personnel and law enforcement methods to discourage criminal behavior.
  2. City council is on record assuring these festivals will be “family events,” yet equivalent events show significant drug use and related behavior incompatible with the assurances. The A-to-Z spectrum of music festivals affords few models considered “family events.” Will the Rose Bowl festival resemble Outside Lands in San Francisco? Coachella in Indio? Tanglewood in Massachusetts? How will Pasadena be different? Pasadena residents are entitled to specifics. Upon adopting a model, City Council must identify impacts and fund mitigation.
  3. There must be public clarity on who runs the events, their liability and signature agreement to local standards for the Central Arroyo. Early plans call for main-stage performances inside the stadium. Satellite stage performances will be on the golf course, synchronized with the main stage yet displacing parking and expanding the event beyond the golf course. Terms and conditions for this “expansion” have yet to be identified. There has been no public discussion of restaurant facilities, food trucks, etc. Camping in the Central Arroyo, as experienced with the Coachella festival, reportedly will be prohibited.
  4. Expect City Council to favor “passing the buck” to the Rose Bowl Operating Company (RBOC) to grant exemptions to city ordinances governing noise levels, intrusions of lighting and operating hours. The duration of these waivers, in terms of hours, must be set by City Council. It has been determined that First Amendment protections will be upheld for performers amplifying lyrics found unacceptable by neighboring families with children.
  5. The stock-and-trade of competent music promotion is CONTRACTS. The City of Pasadena, with well-known financial needs at the Rose Bowl, will be disadvantaged from the start in contract negotiations with music promoters. Who, at City Hall, will read every line of these contracts and comment back to City Council and the public prior to signature?

SRNA will continue to participate in the RBOC-Neighborhood process designed to address these issues. Updates to neighbors will be ongoing.

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