Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – Sunset Beacon

letters to the editor graphic revised

The Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival generates a lot of revenue for the City. But, the noise for residents is annoying and has been getting worse every year.

The August, 2018 the festival generated 249 noise complaints by 190 different residents of about 12 square miles of western San Francisco. Some of the complaints came from residents who live as far as three miles from Golden Gate Park. And, some residents whose noise complaints have been ignored for years have been abandoning their homes during the three-day festival.

Unfortunately, none of the 190 people who submitted complaints were notified about the community meetings that were held in the Sunset and Richmond districts in September and October to discuss problems with the Outside Lands Festival. And, a Rec. and Park staff report dated Dec. 6, 2018, unfairly underreported the number of noise complaints received during and after the 2018 festival.

The SF Recreation and Park Commission will consider a 10-year extension of the Outside  Lands’ Use Permit at the full commission meeting on Thursday, Jan. 17, at 10 a.m., at City Hall, Room 416.

Before any extension of the Outside Lands Use Permit is approved, everyone who is affected by noise from the festival should request that the City take the following actions:

• Adopt objective standards and testing protocols for noise levels at all outdoor events, including the Outside Lands Festival; and incorporate those standards into the Outside Lands Use Permit;

• Require the City and Outside Lands sponsors to co-retain a competent acoustic engineer (for the duration of the current and all subsequent use permits) to consult on the installation and operation of the sound system at every Outside Lands Festival;

• Reduce the time period of the proposed extension of the Outside Lands Use Permit from 10 years to three years.

Please email your comments to the Recreation and Park Commission or attend the meeting.

As written, the proposed Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival Use Permit does not specify what acoustical standards must be met and what testing protocols must be used to control noise levels at the festival and in the surrounding neighborhoods. The use permit only requires Outside Lands to “monitor noise levels” and adjust them “as required.”

Further, the proposed use permit does not include the acoustical standards and testing protocols that the Recreation and Park Department and Outside Lands are using to determine if outdoor noise levels from Outside Lands are acceptable, because the City has never adopted outdoor noise standards. And, the use permit does not even mention the possibility of retaining an acoustical engineering firm to design the sound system for each festival.

Please attend the meeting or send in your comments concerning the annual Outside Lands Festival.

Andrew Solow

4 replies »

  1. My letter to the Rec and Park Commissioners, cc. the Mayor and BOS:

    Dear Commissioners,

    Please do not approve a ten year extension of the contract with APE for Outside Lands. If you renew the contract at all, a three year contract will make APE more responsive to community and City concerns. My preference would be to not renew the contract and have someone sponsor a free festival in it’s place.

    It is just plain wrong to fence off an area of Golden Gate Park for a week for the benefit of a for-profit corporation even if some benefits accrue to the City. Golden Gate Park belongs to the community and should always be accessible, open and free. It belongs to the people. We paid for it, we maintain it, we use it. The Sunset and Richmond Districts bear the main burden of the Outside Lands takeover of the Park and adjacent neighborhoods. Why should the Sunset and Richmond be victimized with traffic congestion, noise and restricted access to the Park. Why not hold Outside Lands at Crissy Field? Why not vary the location so that other neighborhoods can share in the sacrifices if it’s for the common good? Why not have the festival in the Presidio or in Mclaren Park some years? Actually, free festivals like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, open to everyone, are really the only festivals that should be held in public parks.

    Thank you for your consideration of the above.


    • Thanks for sharing my letter! I fully support Andrew Solow’s request for monitoring sound levels if there is going to be a festival in GGP. The sound has been too loud in the past and disrupts our quiet enjoyment of the Park.


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