By Ben Westhoff, Andrea Domanick and Liz Ohanesian
Stay tuned to West Coast Sound for further reaction and updates on the rescheduling of bands at alternate venues.
2:49 p.m. update: Sunset Junction and Live Nation have issued a press release, confirming West Coast Sound's exclusive scoop about the concert promoter's attempted bailout, and airing its grievances with the city. Full press release at the bottom of this post.
2:34 p.m. update: The Sunset Junction website is down.
2:10 p.m update: Nightclub El Cid reports that its scheduled stage at Sunset Junction will stay open, even if the festival is canceled. The reason they can do this is because they never received — and thus never signed — an official contract from the festival. They're also opening another stage for displaced bands to play for free at nearby sister club Los Globos.
Following the Los Angeles Board of Public Works' second denial of a permit this morning for Sunset Junction, the festival appears to be canceled. “Seriously, we tried our best on raising the huge amount of money — thanks for all the support. Unfortunately we didn't meet the expectations,” reads a tweet on its Twitter page. This is not an yet an official cancellation, however, so stay tuned.
“Were gonna go back and review our options,” Sunset Junction lawyer Phillip Tate tells West Coast Sound of the festival's fate. “It's a nonprofit that operates on a shoestring budget. They've been questioning these bills since October. While the board believes that they should've had quick and easy access [to addressing outstanding issues with the city], Los Angeles doesn't work like that. If you've ever read Kafka's The Castle, it's more like that.”
Could Sunset Junction now be sued for breaking contracts with bands? “Our firm has not been involved with the contracts of any of the bands or the vendors,” Tate continues, “so I don't know the details of those contracts.”
Members of local band Vanaprasta attended the hearing, and afterwards expressed deep disappointment at the news. Set to open for popular metal act Helmet on Saturday at the Satellite, they maintained that the opportunity had come at a critical “make-or-break” moment for the band's career, but felt it had now been lost.
“I do feel like we all lose,” says Sarah Dale, owner of Pull My Daisy and a member of Silver Lake Neighborhood Council, who offered her thoughts to West Coast Sound throughout the process. “It would be great to have a street fair that worked.
Press release from Sunset Junction and Live Nation below.
Dale places the blame for Sunset Junction's demise squarely on the shoulders of Michael McKinley and the Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance for “not paying bills, not filing for permits on time and disrespecting the city of Los Angeles and the community.”
“It's sad that they refused to work with the city and community until it was too late,” she adds.
Dale has hope that one day a street fair will return to Silver Lake in a different fashion, with “a promoter willing to work with the community for a free festival without fences.”
She adds, “This community will support that.”
STATEMENT FROM SUNSET JUNCTION REGARDING TODAY'S DECISION BY THE BOARD OF PUBLIC WORKS
The requested city fees of $142,000 for the 2011 Sunset Junction Fair were secured from Live Nation ($100k) along with supporters, who stepped up on behalf of Sunset Junction in respect of their 31-year history. Sunset Junction legal was told by the Board of Public Works hearing on Monday, August 22 that they may re-consider issuing permits if Sunset Junction could provide them with this year's fees in advance, totaling $142,000 by Wednesday, August 24 at 12 noon. The majority in attendance on August 22 were in support of Sunset Junction.
Live Nation deeply understands the importance, the legacy and the great impact the fair has on the majority of the community, along with the artistic community. The funds did arrive yesterday from Live Nation, however not in time for Sunset Junction organizer Micheal McKinley to deposit in the bank. The funds were deposited in the bank this morning (8/24) with a faxed receipt of proof sent over to the Board of Public Works. This is disputed in the media.
Last year, one week prior to the 2010 Sunset Junction Fair, organizers were presented with a bill for $267,000 from the city. In prior years, these fees did not exist for the non-profit organization, which utilizes Sunset Junction as a fundraiser to help at risk youth embrace a better life choice. Sunset Junction repeatedly asked for an itemization of city fees and once they were received, found that the fees were inflated more than 10 times that of comparable LA festivals. They also found that the fees for the police seemed to be questionably inflated. This point was also brought up at Monday's hearing and addressed by Commissioner Valerie Lynne Shaw. The official answer by a police representative when asked about the discrepancy in charges from one year to the next, was there “was a change in policy”.
Sunset Junction has every intention of paying the city fees that it justifiably owes; the non-profit simply asks for a fair and just accounting that is comparable to other citywide events.
Sunset Junction was fortunate and grateful to have Live Nation step-up to support them at the 11th hour. This is not a regular occurrence during these harsh economic times and prior years of recession, and therefore Sunset Junction should not be faulted for not being able to previously deliver funds. It is a testament to Live Nation for having the passion, heart and soul to save the special magic of Sunset Junction for all the fans, the community, the artistic community, the at risk youth and everyone else here who loses as a result.