Outside Lands contract extension passes first hurdle

Residents’ feedback was not all harmonious Thursday on a deal to allow Outside Lands to take place in Golden Gate Park until 2031, but it was approved by a Recreation and Park Commission committee.

Another Planet Entertainment has negotiated a 10-year extension to an existing agreement with the Recreation and Park Department to hold the annual three-day music festival in Golden Gate Park until 2031.

The music promoter asked for the extension to allow more time to book acts years in advance, according to Dana Ketcham, Rec and Park’s director of property management.

Concerns over parking, noise and park access were among 24 letters sent to the Recreation and Park Commission Operations Committee prior to it voting to approve the deal. The committee received 34 letters in support, such as from labor union members and small businesses, according to Ketcham.

Stephen Somerstein, a professional photographer, who lives on 33rd Avenue, a block from Golden Gate Park, complained about the event’s noise.

“I have called in numerous times and no one has ever come to my home a block away,” Somerstein said. “I can hear the sound penetrating throughout my home to every part of my house. It is inescapable. I do not hear any of this when Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is performing. We have to leave our home.”

Ketcham said that the new agreement requires at least three sound monitors to go out to respond to complaints and take measurements, something she said was happening before. The proposed agreement also requires Another Planet to disclose to the department the sound adjustments they make throughout the event based on those complaints.

Phil Ginsburg, director of the Recreation and Park Department, said that Outside Lands “is very important to The City, to our programs and services but we understand what this is — this is a music festival in a park in a busy city with neighborhoods.”

“There isn’t always a perfect answer to that. But we take it very seriously,” he said. “Every year our goal is to get better.” He added that Another Planet understands “they need the support of the neighborhoods.”

Allen Scott, an Another Planet producer, highlighted the economic benefits the event has brought to the The City. A study they commissioned found it added $66.8 million to the local economy last year. “I could not be more proud in the job that we’ve done,” he said.

The financial terms of the deal extending the contract largely remain the same. The City will continue to receive 11 percent of the gross ticket revenue, which is the ticket revenue less taxes, processing costs and “additional rent.” The additional is a surcharge on tickets sold, which currently is $1.25. That surcharge will remain for next year, but then increase to $1.50 in 2020, $1.75 in 2024 and $2 in 2028.

The concert began in 2008, when the promoter paid $800,000 to Rec and Park. This year, Another Planet paid Rec and Park about $3.3 million, under the agreement.

Rec and Park Commissioner Gloria Bonilla noted that those who attended the meeting were nearly all in support of the event. “Obviously, there are so many benefits from this event,” Bonilla said. “I am elated that this event is being viewed so positively. I expected to hear a little bit more opposition but that didn’t come to pass.”

Rec and Park Commissioner Eric McDonnell, who says he attends the event, expressed one concern not covered in the agreement, ticket prices. “It’s becoming more cost prohibitive for families to partake. One of the people who spoke today talked about being able to take the entire family. It is getting harder and harder to do that.”

The Recreation and Park Commission will vote on the deal next month. If approved, it would go before the Board of Supervisors for a vote for final approval.