Since the tragedies that took place at HARD Summer last year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has been working hard on finding a way to make EDM events safer.
Four months ago, the county’s task force, which set out to investigate and find a solution, published their recommendations; and now, following said recommendations, the Board has now chosen not to specifically regulate electronic music festivals, but any and all events on county grounds with more than 10,000 attendees.
The LA County Board will go over events on a case-by-case basis, and will have the authority to require various ordinances at such events, including: enlisting more law enforcement to be present, calling for more water for festival attendees, higher age limits, and even the distribution of educational materials and various safety measures before the county board will approve the event.
Immediately, it looks as if the county is using this model to avoid the murky legal waters of violating First Amendment rights by specifically targeting just raves. Yet, public officials such as Cynthia Harding, interim director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, argue that this model would emphasize flexibility above all else.
“This allows for flexibility, as well as for more restrictions on those events that need to be tighter to protect health and safety.”
Public officials are emphasizing the flexibility of the case-by-case model, rather than a general requirement for all events in question, because of the vastly different natures of events that are expected to fall under that 10K attendee range – be it a large-scale rave or a monster-truck rally for example. Per Mary Wickham, lead county counsel, “the county can forgo an extensive review for something like a recreational vehicle expo if it’s determined the risks to health and safety are already low.”
Miss Wickham also adds that the main requirement that the county board looks at before making a ruling is “whether this event presents a strong possibility of loss of life or harm to participants.” Keep in mind, though, that reading the descriptions provided to us by LA county and statements by public officials, it seems that raves are the main targets of this new regulation whether they want to make that less obvious or not. At the same time, uing this model helps the LA County Board avoid lawsuits on the basis of first amendment violation while actively being able to regulate raves.
At this time, the ordinance has yet to be drafted but Miss Wickham’s office will handle that and resubmit it to the board at a later date.
In related news, the Pomona Fairplex has announced that it will not hold raves in 2016. No followup comment was made as to a precise reason, though it isn’t difficult to read between the lines. Many critics of the raves, those in the surrounding neighborhoods, are already lauding the decision; some are asking why not go even further.
“What about next year?” asked Judy St. John, a retired teacher who lives near the Fairplex. “It shouldn’t be just for the rest of the year, it should be—no more, ever.”