DEL MAR — With the fourth annual KAABOO Del Mar less than three months away, organizers of the upscale, three-day entertainment and arts festival held two community meetings to share noise, traffic and other impact mitigation updates and address any other concerns the public may have.
If attendance is any indication of the effectiveness of past improvements, it would appear most of the issues have been worked out.
No one attended either meeting, held from 6 to 8 p.m. June 14 and June 19 at the Del Mar Hilton, across from the Del Mar Fairgrounds where the event kicks off Sept. 14.
“That says to me we’re doing a pretty good job,” spokesman Joshua Goodman said.
About two weeks before the first meeting invitations were sent to about 75 groups countywide, including any whose names contained the words Del Mar or Solana Beach.
Despite the lack of an audience at the June 14 meeting, operations Vice President Nathan Prenger ran through his presentation for the two media members on hand.
During the inaugural KAABOO, the biggest complaint was noise. Since then a sound expert with a doctorate degree was hired. Stages were repositioned and speakers were angled to direct sound toward Interstate 5 and not the two neighboring cities.
Additionally, performers are contractually required to maintain sound levels dictated by KAABOO, which can override sound consoles if the noise exceeds acceptable levels.
Prenger said that was never necessary, adding that just having the option seemed to “keep artists in line.”
Noise-canceling technology was also implemented. As a result of those efforts, noise complaints went from 123 the first year to 10 in 2017.
During the 2016 event, noise complaints decreased but there were problems with traffic, crowd control and inadequate planning to accommodate ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.
KAABOO hired transportation planning experts to analyze traffic and design a transportation demand management plan.
To decrease wait times and make ride-hailing more efficient from a traffic perspective, the consultants created a large onsite hub for pickups and drop-offs.
Additionally, KAABOO partnered with Uber and Lyft to use an electronic queuing system within fairgrounds property and a geofence was created to prohibit pickups and drop-off outside the fairgrounds.
“We’re taking advantage of technology to make the most up-to-date improvements,” Prenger said.
Late in the game last year KAABOO partnered with Fanzone, a real-time transportation management platform that proved successful. So this year organizers brought the company onboard earlier and they expect the shuttle service to further improve traffic issues.
A unified command center is set up to better address safety and security, Prenger said. KAABOO organizers worked with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and fairgrounds security, as well as the FBI for a threat assessment.
“With everyone in the same room we can come to an easy resolution and dispatch the correct personnel if and when a call comes in,” Goodman said. “We have security trained specifically for the needs of KAABOO. We really want to make sure we’re on top on things.”
To complain or complement, call (858) 794-1104 during the event. Goodman said he or another person will be answering the phones from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Calls will not go to a recording unless there are several at one time, he added.
Prenger also noted the event has a $37.5 million economic impact on the county, including about $15 million in Del Mar and Solana Beach. About 6,500 jobs are created and the approximately 55 percent of attendees who come from out of town account for 13,000 hotel and motel room nights.
KAABOO also donates $1 from each ticket sale to a variety of local charities, including Surfrider Foundation, Voices for Children and the Armed Services YMCA San Diego.
“It’s a sizeable impact,” Prenger said.
This year’s musical lineup features more than 65 artists, including Foo Fighters, Incubus and Blondie Friday night, Imagine Dragons and Billy Idol on Saturday and Katy Perry and Robert Plant on Sunday.
Comedians include Craig Ferguson, Kevin Nealon, Nikki Glaser and Pauly Shore. Chris Hardwick was scheduled to perform but his show was cancelled after allegations of abuse surfaced.
“We made the decision to pull Chris Hardwick from the KAABOO Del Mar 2018 comedy lineup following detailed accusations of substantial abuse,” Goodman stated in an email. “KAABOO is an experience dedicated to providing a safe community and fostering an inclusive environment for all of our guests, performing artists and comedians, chefs, visual artists and team members.
“KAABOO does not condone, and will not tolerate, any type of abusive behavior or harassment,” he added. “A replacement act for Hardwick will be announced shortly.”
Tickets range from $139 for a one-day pass to $15,000 for a VIP package that includes exclusive front row center viewing at each stage, a private backstage lounge area, priority access to meet-and-greet experiences, food and beverages throughout the weekend in select areas, on-demand car service to and from the event, a swag bag and golf cart service throughout the venue.
Discounted tickets are being offered to local residents. Call (855) 798-5995.
Visit www.kaaboodelmar.com for more information.
Prenger and his team plan to meet with local homeowner associations and make presentations at City Council meetings between now and September.