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Richmond, Mount Davidson residents appeal Outside Lands permits

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Apparently, it gets loud

Muse at the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival 2011 in San Francisco.
Muse at Outside Lands in 2017.
Photo by Edward Betts / Wikicommons

The annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival generates tens of millions of dollars for the city and brings some of the hottest musical acts in the world to San Francisco every summer. What more could anyone ask?

A little peace and quiet, for starters, as the San Francisco Examiner reports that two SF residents have appealed the city’s recent decision to extend Outside Lands’ permits another ten years, citing frequent noise complaints.

One of the appellants, Andrew Solow (a private investigator who lives on Mount Davidson), has voiced public complaints about the noise before.

In a January letter to the Sunset Beacon, Solow acknowledged that the annual festival is a moneymaker for the city, but alleged that citizen complaints were (pardon the phrase) falling on deaf ears:

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.

In a similar letter to the San Francisco Chronicle in December, Solow claimed he could hear the ruckus from his Mount Davidson home and called the noise “overwhelming.”

Dawes in 2013.
Photo by Josh Withers

In February the other appellant, Richmond-based photographer Stephen Sommerstein, complained in the Richmond Review that the city gives Outside Lands a blank check for noise and doesn’t bother to monitor the festival in the same way it does other public events.

The appeal does not call for doing away with the permit extension entirely, but rather that the period be reduced, from ten years to three years, and that the city adopt new standards for how loud outdoor concerts get.

In 2010, after the third annual Outside Lands bash, Richmond Blog reported “few complaints” and cited only about 50 calls to the city about noise.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will have final say on the festival’s permit extension and on the appeal. A board committee already favored the permit with an unanimous vote last week.

Outside Lands is scheduled for August 9-11 this year. Concert organizers have not yet announced the lineup.