L.A. County's government this week approved new guidelines for concerts and festivals, namely raves, at its taxpayer-owned venues.
Particularly when it comes to electronic dance music, those places, including the Fairplex in Pomona, Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, and Grand Park downtown, have almost become the only potential homes for large-scale festivals in Los Angeles.
Following a string of deaths related to ecstasy (MDMA) at DJ-driven events, some venue operators, including the L.A. Coliseum, have closed their doors to EDM parties.
Reacting to the deaths of two teenagers who attended the Hard Summer festival at the Fairplex in Pomona in August, the county Board of Supervisors yesterday approved new hurdles for raves on county property.
An assessment team made up of fire, sheriff's, medical, public health and other top county officials will be able to make the call on whether prospective events with 10,000 or more people will be 18- or 21-and-older.
Rave promoters will have to submit plans to the team 120 days in advance.
The team will make a “threat assessment” based on the size of the event as well as the possibility of drug use, medical emergencies and other factors, according to a draft of the new rules.
If “there is a strong probability that loss of life” would occur, the draft says, promoters will have 60 days to come up with an “event action plan” that includes limits on alcohol sales or an outright ban, age limits, size limits, earlier closing times and medical and security precautions, according to the ordinance.
County officials will have the last word.
Supervisor Hilda Solis, who proposed a possible rave ban in response to last summer's deaths, said the rules were “specifically designed to reduce the risk to attendees.”
Hard Summer 2014, at the county-run Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, also saw an attendee death. Nineteen-year-old Emily Tran of Anaheim succumbed to “acute MDMA intoxication,” a coroner's official said.
Last summer, 18-year-old Hard attendee Tracy Nguyen of West Covina died of MDMA intoxication, according to the coroner's office. The cause of death for Katie Dix, a 19-year-old from Camarillo who reportedly collapsed at the same event, was still under investigation.
The death of a 15-year-old who had sneaked into a rave at the Coliseum in 2010 sparked criticism and ultimately led to the end of electronic dance music festivals at that taxpayer-run venue.
Following last summer's deaths Hard adopted a 21-and-older policy at its next festival, and no deaths were reported. It's not clear, however, if that will be a permanent move. It certainly would mean less business for promoters.
“Protecting the health and safety of L.A. County residents and visitors attending mass gatherings at our County Fairgrounds, and parks and recreation spaces is the overarching goal,” Solis said. “Whether this means more water and medical stations, or increasing first responder availability in the surrounding community, today’s ordinance achieves this goal.
“With proper planning and coordination,” she said, “we will reduce the risk of loss of life and harm to event attendees.”