The 31st annual Sunset Junction music festival in Silver Lake was denied a permit today by members of the Board of Public Works, who expressed frustration and anger at the organization’s inability to pay for more than $250,000 in services rendered by the city.
At issue was an outstanding tab from last year’s event, plus another $141,000 that would need to be paid to the city for this year’s event.
Two days ago, an attorney for the Sunset Junction festival told the board the organization could only offer $50,000 toward this year’s event. Following that meeting, Live Nation made a $100,000 donation to the group however, a review of the group’s available checking balances showed the funds had yet to clear.
The annual festival was slated for this Saturday and Sunday.
“This is not an indication to me of any sort that any funds are secured, that any funds will be available for issuance of a check to support this special events permit,” board President Andrea Alarcon told the festival’s attorney, Phillip Tate.
“This is a remarkable disappointment.”
Today’s decision leaves the Sunset Junction festival with an uncertain future.
“Clearly there are a lot of people who love this festival,” Tate said. “If the festival does not happen, it is very likely this organization will collapse under the litigation that will ensue.”
Problems began a year ago when the city issued a permit for the event even though the estimated fees for police, sanitation and traffic crews were not paid in advance. Following the festival, the city sent organizers three invoices for $256,484. The unpaid bill was eventually forwarded to the Office of Finance, which turned it over to a collection agency, and ultimately the matter was referred to the city attorney’s office.
Festival organizers, however, believe they were overcharged and question why fees shot up so dramatically over the last few years. According to Tate, the Los Angeles Police Department’s bill for the 2010 festival included a police officer who claimed to work 28 hours in one day and police officers who billed for days beyond when the event was held.
“They did try to question this bill from the beginning,” Tate said.