Jaime Rojas, Jr.
The City of Los Angeles, like many other cities across our great nation, is facing fiscal chaos. Many government agencies are dealing with slashed budgets, cut revenue streams, and lack of strong political leadership.
On Wednesday, City of L.A. officials from the public works commission, denied the permits to Sunset Junction, a 30 year old street festival and one of the city's oldest & most popular music festivals. This event first started as a two day grassroots event to sooth tensions between the area's Latino and gay residents. It has now become known as the "Coachella of the City". It has transformed itself from a street festival that brings tens of thousands of visitors and has a lineup of more than 80 acts, including K.D. Lang, Three Degrees and Ozomatli to name a few.
The ISSUE: A dispute of $260,000 in unpaid fees from the organizers, and not including this year's fees of $140,000.
The city has lost millions of dollars in uncollected debts which include community groups and unpaid parking tickets. Its estimated that the City of Los Angeles last year only collected 53% of money owed to them! In addition, many local residents have complained. A member of the local neighborhood council stated, "The use of the public property for private profit is what really upsets people. That's our streets, our neighborhood, our stores, our coffee shops we can't get to..."
The City of Los Angeles gave the organizing group 48 hours to come up with a $141,000 check to at least cover this year's cost. The group was able to raise $100,000 but could only prove the amount through a fax from a bank account, and not even bring an actual check. L.A. City Public works board president, Andrea Alarcon said, "Fail me once, shame on you. Fail me twice, shame on me. This organization has failed the city time and time again."
The SOLUTION: The City of Los Angeles finally grabbed the bull by the horns and said enough is enough! The city owes it to its taxpayers to put its foot down and protect the coffers of its residents and taxpayers.
The spokesman for L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti, whose district includes the music festival, said it best: "...the festival organizers tried to flimflam $400,000 from the taxpayers. The fact thaty they came up with a large sum...in just 36 hours, shreds their credibility even more. They should have spent the last 12 months coming up with the full amount."