To Jay Z or not to Jay Z? That is the question.
LA Weekly has learned that the office of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti appeared to green-light a two-day, 50,000-ticket Budweiser Made in America concert featuring Jay Z at downtown's Grand Park this summer without some of the usual protocols, including letting the area city councilman, Jose Huizar, know about it.
We discovered it was such a seemingly done deal that a press conference had been scheduled for yesterday – it was canceled in the wake of controversy – to announce that tickets were going on sale for the Aug. 30 and 31 show, despite a lack of city street-closure permits and approvals from the likes of the LAPD:
Huizar drafted a rare council motion recently that would require a report on “any permits, actions, public safety concerns, and any necessary cost implications of the proposed” noon-to-11 p.m. event and withhold permits until he's seen that report.
The councilman's office says nearby street closures lasting as long as 10 days, public safety concerns, and a lack of community input are his main issues with the proposed concert. According to a statement sent to us by Huizar's people:
This is not about opposing special events or any particular concert, it's about making sure the affected community, in this case downtown stakeholders, is part of the planning process sooner rather than later. When you're talking about a proposed event of this magnitude, with 50,000 expected, multiple-day street closures, beer and for-profit ticket sales at a public park, it is imperative that we have an open, inclusive dialogue in ensuring it's a good fit for the neighborhood and, if it is, that concerns are mitigated well in advance.
None of these things – street closures, permits, public safety issues – were put before his office (as would be the norm) before the event was apparently greenlit, Huizar's motion indicates:
Local community groups have also not been informed. The City cannot support an event where there has been no community outreach to engage affected residents and gain necessary feedback. This is particularly important in Downtown, where exponential growth in population density has led to a mounting concern over street closures that impede access and cause traffic congestion.
The park handled an estimated 25,000 people for New Year's Eve, although it did see one complainant, downtown resident Michael Trujillo, who said a large group of people bum-rushed one of the gates in a moment of chaos.
Many DTLA dwellers have been fed up with special events and street closures. In this case, Huizar's office emphasizes that there could be days' worth of impacts for residents and businesses. (Imagine having a Jay Z concert in your neighborhood.)
The city doesn't singlehandedly control events at Grand Park, which is run jointly with the county under the Los Angeles Grand Avenue Authority. However, big shindigs effectively need City Hall's blessing when city street closures and other impacts result.
Garcetti's office sent us this statement:
We are in discussions about a potential event. If and when details become more firmly set, we will engage additional stakeholders. We all share the goal of a fun event that showcases Downtown and boosts our economy.
We reached out to concert mega-promoter Live Nation, which is planning the show, but had yet to hear back.