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Kaaboo Soundings
Nancy Fisher | 24th Street

Photo Mike Salt.
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The fairground’s three-day music festival, Kaaboo, featuring over 100 acts on seven stages, came and went with the jury still out on its impact. Although concerns about security, traffic, littering, and camping in the streets didn’t materialize, noise was a huge issue, rocking residents from the Beach Colony to Torrey Pines Terrace. The surprise to some is that the number of residents who complained about the booming bass notes was matched or exceeded by those who happily pulled out their lawn chairs and enjoyed “No Doubt” live from their own backyard.

Attendees found the festival to be well managed, with plenty of excellent food choices. A bright yellow wrist band reading 21+ was required to order alcohol. From a law-enforcement standpoint Kristen Crane, Management Services Director for the City, reports “a few issues on site at the Fairgrounds, but no more than a typical day at the fair.” She added that some people tried to observe the concert from the trestle bridge, but since the Ranger and Lifeguards were monitoring the area, they quickly and safely addressed this issue.

On the other hand, noise and sound vibrations were frequently reported concerns. Kaaboo management agrees and points out that after monitoring sound levels on Friday night they turned down (or off) several speakers to reduce noise in the neighborhoods. In spite of this, an unusual combination of wind and humidity on the final night of the concert carried noise as far as Carmel Valley (with one report from La Jolla!). A phone number for noise complaints that many expected to be staffed was often answered by voice mail, although Kaaboo management tells us that calls were returned within an hour. The most extreme case of inconvenience from the noise reported to the Sandpiper was that of a resident who suffered a medical emergency and for half an hour was unable to alert his wife, who was in a nearby room, over the music.

And finally, because the main stage faced “the hill” in Del Mar, those residents experienced significantly more light and noise than other areas, annoying some and entertaining others. Several have speculated that orienting the main stage toward the hill helped minimize internal competition between their stages at the expense of neighborhoods.

Becky Bartling, of the the 22nd District Agricultural Association has confirmed that “if Kaaboo complies with the terms of the contract then we will hold dates for them the following year.” Kaaboo has already announced returning dates in 2016 of September 16-18.

Del Mar residents and City Staff worked closely with the 22nd DAA board and with Kaaboo management to make their concerns known before the festival, and are expected to continue do so as the City weighs in on whether Kaaboo is an asset to Del Mar either culturally or financially (anecdotally supported, until the numbers are in, by full hotels and increased retail on 15th St.).

KAABOO Comments

From the Beach Colony
KAABOO noise Friday night was very loud in the beach community but Saturday and Sunday nights were much better. Sunday night was a bit louder but did wind play a part? KAABOO representatives listened to our complaints and made adjustments. I attended on Saturday and Sunday and was very impressed with the entire experience and music. Traffic was not an issue and buses were directed to I-5 away from downtown Del Mar. Intoxication was somewhat an issue as people left. As this grows larger Del Mar needs to stay alert to increasing attendance and possible problems.   Robin Crabtree, 25th Street

We were pleasantly surprised as to how well the weekend went. Of course there was noise and traffic, we live by the fairgrounds, so that is a given. KAABOO was very well run and organized. There was no noise after 10 pm each night here on 24th Street, and we didn’t have people loitering in the streets, alleys and beaches after dark. What a great opportunity to see so many diverse bands in a magnificent venue. Congratulations to the organizers of KAABOO! We look forward to next year.  Michelle Fleck and Mike McKnerney, 24th Street

I would be very interested to know the financial benefits to the City in terms of sales tax revenue, and benefits to merchants in the way of increased sales. I think the negative impacts were minimal because the attendance was much less than anticipated, and the City rose to the occasion and was ready for the worst. I’m guessing it also cost the City a lot of money to be prepared, which we won’t see in the increased revenue figures. And I hope that next year the City doesn’t back off because they think this year went well. Nancy Stoke, Coast Blvd

From the Hill
Being able to see and hear everything on the main stage, on balance, we found Kaaboo more entertaining than nuisance. It’s very dependent on your taste in music. The traffic impact was minimal and the usual “trolling for free parking” was prevented by the “Resident Parking Only” signs placed at the bottom of David Way. It’d be nice to see the signs out there for all large Fairground events!
Jeff Weitzen, David Way

My comment would be that at 10:00 pm sharp every night the music stopped. I liked that. No traffic issues at all on Jimmy Durante. Music was louder than the race track concerts, but oh well. Jim Benedict, Christy Lane

From the South
I live in the south end of town approx 2 miles from the Fairgrounds. I think I can speak for many neighbors who found the constant “BOOMING” (bass playing) very annoying. It was pretty constant, particularly in the late afternoons and until it stopped at 10:00 PM. We didn’t hear music at all, just the loud rhythmic “BOOMING”! It will be interesting to learn more about the benefits for the City. Perhaps if this event occurs again, they could give interested residents a special deal on admission tickets! Carol Kerridge, El Amigo Road


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