Sunset Junction Street Festival still exists, but it might not be continuing in the large, Coachella-light style that it has for the bulk of this decade.
The annual event has been a point of contention in recent years as it has grown in size from a neighborhood street fair to a bona fide music festival and the tension between the festival organizers and its neighbors came to a head at a meeting of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Governing Board last night, which I attended. A small group of local business owners and residents were in attendance to voice shared concerns that Sunset Junction's organizers are not working closely with the community, resulting in losses for Sunset Boulevard businesses as well as parking and traffic issues for residents. Meanwhile, festival head Michael McKinley argued that the revenue is going to benefit community works such as after school programs, mural repairs and the local farmer's market. Central to the debate is the transformation of Sunset Junction from a donate-at-your-will entry fee to a mandatory $20 cover charge. McKinley countered by claiming that the fixed price point became mandatory because “people weren't donating” and that he handed out 5000 free passes to locals. No detailed records of expenses for the festival were produced at last night's meeting.
Ultimately, the Board voted unanimously in favor of a motion stating that it will “oppose the Sunset Junction Street Festival in its current format.” What this means for the future of the popular festival is still unknown. There are talks that a series of meetings between Sunset Junction organizers and the Neighborhood Council will occur between now and the event, which the Sunset Junction website has announced will take place on August 22 and 23 and, as stated in the meeting, permits are still pending.