Conversation on Golden Gate Park concerts continues

Hellman Hollow in Golden Gate Park (formerly Speedway Meadow)

“I call for this hearing each year,” said District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar. The focus of the hearing was large events in Golden Gate Park, and each year, hundreds of San Franciscans have something to say about it.

At the Land Use Committee meeting Feb. 13, the room was packed with concert industry representatives, local artists, police officers, a couple dozen members of the Carpenters In Action from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 22, and neighbors. Lots and lots of neighbors.

Many of the Richmond and Sunset residents who spoke are furious with the many large concerts that take place in Golden Gate Park throughout the year, including Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Alice’s Summerthing, Outside Lands, and Power to the Peaceful.

They spoke of unbearable noise, impossible parking, and crime spilling over from the event crowds. One man said that during Outside Lands, his house shakes so much that he feels “trapped inside an acoustic guitar for three days straight.”

The Recreation and Parks Department has implemented several measures addressing these ongoing concerns since the first annual hearing on this topic in 2009. Dana Ketchum and Nick Kinsey represented the department at the hearing, speaking in detail of tightened permitting measures, increased outreach to the community about upcoming events, and a hotline set up so neighbors can call in noise complaints more efficiently during large concerts and performances.

Ketchum said that noise complaints have resulted more than once in Rec and Parks representatives threatening to pull the plug on amplified sound in the park if partiers don’t turn it down. One neighbor called the hotline, “more useless than yesterday’s spit.”

Proponents of the events, too, were passionate.

Local hip hop artist Tom Shimura, aka Lyrics Born spoke on the importance of the events to the San Francisco music scene. Shimura praised how the Outside Lands lineup is 20 percent local artists.

“These festivals launch careers and create Bay Area success stories,” said Shimura.

“I just wanted to say that I’m a big fan,” said Supervisor Mar.

Many supporters cited a recently released San Francisco State University Study, which finds that Outside Lands generates “more than $60 million for the San Francisco economy,” and even claims the festival creates “683 full-time equivalent jobs” in the city.

Some Richmond residents demanded that all the festivals be cancelled, and, barring that, that they be issued the personal cell phone numbers of the Rec and Parks staff.

“It’s clear everyone supports these events,” said Supervisor Mar at the hearing’s conclusion.

“It’s a matter of collaboration.”


It's tough living in a city where you have to share your space and peace and quiet with other people. It's so tough apparently, that some people just arent cut out for it, and would do better living on a farm or in a gated community where everything you do is controlled by written agreement.

The festivals pump millions into the SF and greater bay area community - and even more - they make a whole lot of people happy. Many many more people happy than people they make angry.

Life goes on, even if some people choose to sit in their homes fuming that someone else is having fun

Posted by Greg on Feb. 15, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

and you thought it was just God, eh? Eddie Izzard talking about California on his Dress to Kill tour:

"Certainly you haven't been smoking in a bar in California, that's for certain!" 'Cause you can't! No, no smoking in bars now, and soon, no drinking and no talking! Be careful, California! You're supposed to be the crazy state, the out there, the wild ones, you know? In the future, everyone's going to say, "Come down to the library, we'll have a wild time, shall we? " ( mimes dragging on a joint ) "Don't know where that fucking book is, mate, it could be anywhere! There's a lot of 'em about!"

Posted by Guest on Feb. 15, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

I agree. Living in the city requires putting up with some stuff you wouldn't have to deal with in the country or suburbia. Me I don't like the traffic noise, but I like the's called compromise

Posted by Guest on Feb. 16, 2012 @ 4:49 am

I live in one of the affected neighborhoods, and I pretty much agree. That's why I was none too happy when Bevan Dufty and his band of NIMBYs killed Halloween in the Castro. That said, there's a balance to be had. I could do without all the corporate-sponsored marathons. Not something like B2B which draws many thousands, but with the Nike Marathon and the fill-in-the-blank corporate marathon, the disruption-to-enjoyment ratio starts to get a little out of whack. And when they do have those events, they could make the parking restrictions less onerous. Just block off traffic for a little while like they do with protests, and let people stay parked where they are instead of towing everybody's car.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 16, 2012 @ 9:07 am

FWIW, B2B is just as "corporate" as any other marathon in town--and how many of them are there? Two that I can think of, SF and Nike's Women ( there's the Kaiser Permanante Half Marathon and the US Halves as well, but those mostly stay off city streets), and those too attract thousands

Posted by Joel on Feb. 16, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

What a bunch of NIMBYs. I live on Twin Peaks and have to deal with obnoxious tourists and the buses that haul them up here on a daily basis - but you don't see me demanding the view be restricted for everyone else.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 15, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

Can't stand it, but I would never go to the city and complain. They were doing it long before I ever showed up.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 15, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

I don't get it. People come out to voice complaints and Mar's concluding remark is "It’s clear everyone supports these events”? Then why'd you call the hearing?

If you live in a city, you have to put up with noise and festivals. But Mar seems out of it.

Posted by The Commish on Feb. 15, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

This is typical Eric Mar, and why a lot of us want a new supervisor. As you've observed, he IS out there. He has no interest in what his constituents want and goes blindly along with his own personal preferences... in short, a control freak. How this man got into politics is beyond me. He considers himself a leftist, but his tactics are about as Republican as you can get. This has happened time and time again with issues in the Richmond district. The man is a severe space case who can't seem to see beyond his own nose. He continually has his own agenda and can't be bothered with standing behind his people.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 16, 2012 @ 9:57 am

it kills me when people in SF complain about noise. I can understand the frustration if the person sharing a wall with you is blaring their music at 4am, or if noisy construction crews are operating far too late at night or too early in the morning.... but noise from large events, bars, clubs, etc. during their business hours? give me a flippin' break.

it just reminds me of the people who move in next to an airport, then complain about the noise from the airplanes. NEWSFLASH dumbasses! the city is loud. if you don't like loud noises every now and then, don't live in the city...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 15, 2012 @ 9:02 pm

I actually disagree with these fellow Avenues denizens of mine on the whole and about the extent of the noise, incovenience, trash and "crime" during festival times, but it's certainly there, and definitely beyond the usual urban atmosphere. A touch more respect would be nice (I don't know why Outside Lands goes to 10 on Sunday night for instance, and I could do without douchebags taking pisses by my stoop or someone trying to jimmy our front door open--to find a place to sleep? Take advantage of the commotion to try and steal shit? Who knows--like we had last year after HSB) but it's not really "hellish" for a few weekends a year.

In terms of incovenience though, I do like watching everybody try and cram on the N-Judah home while I'm walking into my apartment right afterwards.

Posted by Joel on Feb. 16, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

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