Thanx to Cristina Bauss for sending the report to me. I had to do some formatting to post it here. It also contains many typos, some of which I’ve corrected and some of which I can’t make sense. I’m also bolding the portions which seem to be of the most significance. Basically, the two main points are that the staff recommend that the proposal to increase attendance limits be rejected, and actually that the limitations be lowered. Secondly, the staff is basically backing Tom Dimmick’s legal position with regard to the ownership of the permit. So notwithstanding the disparaging comments posted here, Mary Anderson got it right.
The applicant submitted an annual report for the 2006 Reggae on the River music festival as required by conditions of approval for their is proposing to modify the Conditional Use Permit for the annual Reggae on the River music festival (the annual report and conditions of approval are attached). The approved conditional use permit allows the event to be held over the first weekend of August, from Friday through the year 2015to Sunday in 2006 and 2007 at on the 120 acre property known as Dimmick Ranch the and French’s Camp site (APN 33-271-05). Attendance is limited to 8,500 ticket-holders, and approximately 2,000 staff, volunteers, performers, guests, etc. for a total of 10,500 persons. The proposed modification will move the main concert event to the adjacent property to the south, a 120 acre property known as Dimmick Ranch (a portion of the former site east of the river will still be used for camping). The applicants are also requesting ticket sales be allowed to increase to 12,000, and w. With the commensurate increase in staff and volunteers, the total number of persons allowed at the event is will increase to 14,400 persons. The modification will also allow campers to arrive at the site a day earlier (Thursday), although the hours of performance will remain the same. They are also requesting the timeframe for the use permit be extended from 2007 to 2015.
The annual report discusses that many of the issues confronted by the event organizers and staff stem from the difficulty of moving the location of the main event from the French’s Camp site, where the event has been held for the past 22 years, to its new site at Dimmick Ranch. The report acknowledges ways the mitigation measures that have worked before did not work as successfully as they have in the past. The report describes concerns with dust, road compaction, hours of music, realignment of the river bars due to high water during the winter and spring, counterfeiting of parking passes, technical issues with the ticket scanning equipment, and a small fire caused by a bird flying into an electrical transformer. The report identifies the proposed refinements to mitigation measures necessary to reduce the impacts of the project to less than significant levels.
The annual report also contains an assessment of attendance levels and traffic monitoring report. The assessment describes the attendance within approved levels at all times except on Saturday, when attendance reached an estimated 15,888 persons, which is 1,488 persons more than allowed by the CUP. Staff has asked for an amended Attendance Report that describes the qualifications of the author and methodology used to derive the attendance figures.
The traffic report documents successful handling of traffic entering and exiting the project site such that minimal safety hazards were observed. Some patrons exited their cars while in the queue resulting in a safety hazard, and gaps between cars parked in the queue enabled cars to enter and exit from the through traffic lane, which also caused concerns for both the CHP and CalTrans. The report documents mitigation measures necessary to implement in future years to reduce the potential safety risks observed.
Overall the 2006 event appears to have been successful. Based on the report findings, on-site inspection and monitoring provisions and comments from involved reviewing agencies, the Department believes that the applicant has submitted evidence in support of maintaining the existing mitigation measures and operational restrictions with some adjustments as described in the annual report and in the staff report. This notwithstanding, deficiencies noted in the agency comments, in particular, failure to satisfy all Division of Environmental Health (DEH) permit requirements, must be corrected prior to initiation of the 2007 event. Further, staff is recommending that the “Consolidated Event Operations Plan” as described in the DEH memorandum dated November 29, 2006 be made part of the DEH clearance review step as described in Condition A.3 of the Conditions of Approval (COA).
Given that the independent third-party attendance report shows that the concert limit “cap” was exceeded during the 2006 event (Saturday August 5th) by almost 1,500 persons, staff has concerns over permitting the increase in attendance levels of 2,500 additional persons as requested. If current measures cannot maintain the attendance levels, staff believes that the appropriate response would be to back off of the 2006 limits to reduce the overall attendance by this “overage” (i.e., reduce “cap” by 1,488 persons), or have the applicant provide to the Commission’s satisfaction new measures capable of ensuring that concert attendance “caps” will be adhered to. The applicant proposes to conduct the event in accordance with the previously approved Operational, Mitigation and Monitoring Program established for the 1998 – 2004 performances, modified as needed to respond to the new site conditions and evolving agency requirements. The proposal includes off-site parking on four sites within 2 miles of the event site. The on-site medivac helicopter site is being moved off-site to a State Highway Right of Way along Highway 101 just south of the Humboldt County line, a location considered more protective of public safety.
Moving most of the event to the new site causes new impacts on the environment, which are described in the Supplemental EIR for the project. For example, the main entrance to the event to the south 1/2 mile so the traffic flow along Highway 101 and into the site is being reconfigured. A summary of the potential new impacts of the project is provided beginning on page 3 of the Supplemental EIR.
Written correspondence received on the project is attached. There have been several community meetings on the event in the Cooks Valley and Piercy areas. While several persons expressed concerns, the applicant has been working with them to try to resolve their concerns.
Based on the successful aspects ful past history of the 2006 event, on-site inspection and monitoring provisions, a review of Planning Division reference sources, and comments from all involved referral agencies, the Department believes that the applicant has submitted evidence in support of maintaining the existing mitigation measures and operational restrictions with some adjustments as described in the annual report and in the staff report.
There does not appear to be sufficient evidence to warrant granting an increase in attendance levels of 2,500 persons as requested. The audit of attendance levels at the 2006 event shows they exceeded the approved amount by nearly 1,500 persons. The audit does not contain any information about the qualifications of the author, it is unclear what the name of that person is, and there is no description of the methodology used to derive the figures. Accordingly, staff, absent a showing of an attendance control mechanism, is recommending ticket sales be reduced by 1,488 tickets making all of the required findings for that total attendance (tickets and event staff/volunteers) for the 2007 event be reduced to not more than 12,912 persons to align the use with the permit.
Finally, one issue related to the public hearing item that has received significant press coverage in the local newspapers is whether the property owners (Tom Dimmick and the Arthur Trust) have all the rights and responsibilities of the project, or whether those extend to the applicant for the Conditional Use Permit, the Mateel Community Center. It is staff’s understanding that the Use Permit is issued to the property owner runs with the land. There may be contractual agreements between the owner and applicant linked to the Use Permit, but these are not considered by the Use Permit approving the Supplemental Environmental Impact Report and the Conditional Use Permit application.
The first step in the public hearing process will be to take public comment on the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) and identify those areas where changes or additions are needed to complete the document. It is recommended the February 2, 2006 hearing be allocated for this purpose. The draft Final Environmental Impact Report would then be circulated for review and discussion at the continued public hearing on February 16, 2006, and the final product would be presented for review and approval at the public hearing on March 2, 2006.
The Planning Commission could elect not to approve the project, or to approve the Delayed Implementation Alternative as described in the Supplemental EIR. The decision to deny the application should be made if your Commission is unable to make one or more of the required findings to set attendance levels at any amount from a low of 8,500 ticket sales plus 2,000 personnel to a high of 14,500 ticket sales plus 2.400 personnel. Approval of the Delayed Implementation Alternative should occur if the Commission finds it necessary to further reduce the environmental impacts of the project from the levels of impacts associated with the proposed project. Without the benefit of future testimony that may be presented at the public hearings, Planning Division staff is confident that the required findings can be made assumes that under the same operational procedures as last year, 1,488 persons over the permitted levels will again occur, so we recommend reducing allowed ticket sales by 1,488 persons.. Consequently, With no evidence to suggest a better approach, planning staff does not recommend consideration of these other alternatives at this time. The Commission may also make changes to the proposed mitigation measures.
There is more to the report, but I haven’t had the chance to look at it closely. It’s not readable in its current format. I may post more later.
Addendum: Bob Doran has a great update/summary in this week’s North Coast Journal for you ROR v. PP junkies.