Letter: Response to Billy Fried’s column

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Last week, Billy Fried—overtourism’s best friend—suggested opening the Festival of the Arts venue for increased use in his Indy column on March 1.

What’s wrong with Billy’s picture? Hm. There is no mention of what loud uses might be allowed, no mention of glutting the town with many more day-trippers, no mention of, say 1,300 parking spaces needed to handle a 2,600-seat auditorium while we’re already struggling with 6.5 million annual day-trippers.

Let me guess – the tourism-driven Mayor Sue Kempf and Pro Tem Alex Rounaghi’s solution would be for taxpayers to pay for more parking structures.

Indeed, there goes the tag team of Kempf and Rounaghi again devising new ways to gin up more tourism without asking residents what they want. How’d that work for the $250,000 wasted on the scuttled promenade plans Kempf oversaw? Anybody ever get asked about buying the library and possibly turning it into a parking lot (another Kempf concealed effort)? Any takers for turning the promenade into an open carry alcoholic beverage zone as Mayor Kempf proposed in the OC Register? And where was all that promised querying of residents to determine their best use of St. Catherine’s?

While Billy scoffs at the noise level for surrounding neighbors, ponder loud music blasting through the canyon, through town and up to all surrounding neighborhoods on both sides of the canyon. On a loud night, music supposedly inside the Mozambique restaurant can be heard about a mile away.

Granted, it’s a shame to have such a terrific community venue and not be able to use it more often. Select uses might work (beware of usage creep). But like most projects proposed by local pro-business politicians and pro-overtourism advocates, everything gets sugar-coated and glossed over, with all the disqualifying, expensive and inconvenient details intentionally ignored to sell a potential bill of goods to the unwary or blindsided public. All pursued with a fait-accompli-we’ll-push-this-through-before-anyone-can-react-don’t-ask-and-don’t-tell-the-residents abandon. (Need I mention the library again?)

So here’s the pitch: I dare the City Council to conduct a legitimate survey to determine public sentiment about opening the Festival Of Arts up to increased use, a survey employing a fully independent research firm whose directions and questions have been openly vetted by the public –not just City Hall and cherry-picked pro-tourism, pro-business staffers or the obviously biased Chamber.

I dare Kempf and Rounaghi to honestly ask the public and listen for a change.

Jerome Pudwill, Laguna Beach

 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. After writing what a terrible idea activating the Irvine Bowl is, Jerry goes on to tell us, “Granted, it’s a shame to have such a terrific community venue and not be able to use it more often.” So which is it, Pud? You’re back-peddling like like a circus clown.

  2. I would like to remind the letter writer that the FOA grounds, in the past, has been used for many resident pleasing events. We had a winter arts festival there. We had a great October fest there sponsored by either the Rotary club or the chamber of commerce. We had Halloween events there that locals loved. We had great concerts in the bowl, (they ended by 10 pm btw and were spaced at least a month apart). Should the grounds be used year round? Absolutely! We could also have a world class art fair there just to add to the list. Oh, I forgot that the Rotary clubs classic car show spilled over onto the festival grounds. There are any number of uses that locals would love to attend. Yes, the unwashed outsiders would love to enjoy them as well. So be it. Yes there are a few folks above the bowl that would love to close the whole place down forever. That is very selfish view. Mr. Pudwill, your tired invented “facts” may suit your personal narrative but they are far from the reality that the local population dearly loved the above events including doing the chicken dance at the October fest. You might try it sometime. It’s the kind of ridiculous fun that is missing here in the hamlet!

  3. Billie – No back peddling here. As I said, the site is ideal for certain types of events which don’t affect the entire neighborhood or subject it to obnoxious noise pollution. Neighbors paid good money for their homes and their peace and quiet – please quit discounting and marginalizing them.

  4. Jorg – You’re a good friend of Billy’s, right? Promoting tourism is something you thoroughly endorse, right? You could stand to profit from art sales to visitors, right? But what’s in it for the residents? (Who’s being selfish here?)

    With 6.5M visitors a year (or unwashed outsiders as you call them – pretty pejorative, Jorg) already enjoying Laguna, why do we need any more?

    Also claiming that there are a few folks above the bowl that would love to close the whole place down forever seems an over-exaggeration . . . or as you might say, a tired invented “fact.” (Please provide proof of your claim.)

    Conflating what event attendees enjoy versus the ongoing problems that loud events in particular could cause is yet another discounting and marginalization of the homeowners in the entire neighborhood and downtown area.

    As I mentioned to Billy above, the site is ideal for increased use of certain types of events which don’t affect the entire neighborhood or subject the town to obnoxious noise pollution. Neighbors paid good money for their homes and their peace and quiet – those living within a mile radius of the site should be accorded some rights. It’s not all about more tourism.

    Chicken dances, car shows – sure.

    Iron Maiden, Metallica, and Megadeath every weekend – I don’t think so. (Yeah – I know – that’s a stretch to make a point: certain events would work, others wouldn’t – and frequency of use is another thing to consider.)

  5. What’s in it for residents, you ask? More cultural arts. If you don’t like the imposition of coming downtown and finding parking to enjoy an afternoon of non-Pageant entertainment, by all means stay comfortably ensconced at home. But don’t deprive the rest of us because you have an elitist beef with visitors, and those who seek to make a living from them – as has always been the case in this artist hamlet until the bizzkills showed up.

  6. I ran a similar venue-situation and when we produced shows the entire neighborhood complained. When Frank Sinatra concerted they even complained that we should turn it up! The Festival has been a dusty dead horse for ten years and we need new blood.

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