Polo club neighbors plead for tighter reins
Residents don't want repeat of traffic, trespassing problems next Coachella
Xochitl Peña • The Desert Sun • April 30, 2010
Indio residents who live near the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival venue have asked city officials for tighter controls so traffic congestion, trespassing and other issues that plagued this years festival at Empire Polo Club aren't repeated next year.
“The last three years these festivals were dialed in, police were in control,” said resident Dana Brown.
Not so much this time around, she said.
Brown was among a handful of residents who complained to the Indio Planning Commission on Wednesday.
Because of the record number of people attending the concert, she sat watch on her deck and stopped trespassers.
“This (year) was very poorly planned,” Brown said.
The city's police department has addressed the complaints from residents and is working with the concert promoter and venue owner to ensure a smoother concert next year, said Ben Guitron, Indio Police Department spokesman.
“Obviously this is an event that has grown,” Guitron said. “We are working with the property owner, working with the surrounding properties to readjust and make it better for next year.”
The police department received 48 complaints over the Coachella festival weekend, April 16 to April 18, for everything from noise and trespassing to people bothering animals and using their property as bathrooms.
David Lasman said some people tried to break into his home one of the weekends, and some people got onto his property and rode his horses.
Other residents like Janis Dawson complained of being “landlocked” because of the difficulty in leaving her home.
“This year was beyond unbearable for us,” she said.
Part of the problem, some believe, is that the Coachella festival, in its 11th year with record crowds of 75,000 per day, experienced growing pains.
The grounds were also expanded to accommodate more parking in places never used before, said Guitron.
The logistics for the Stagecoach country music concert held the following weekend were typical of previous years and not as problematic, Guitron said.
Nearby resident Patricia Aiken said she's not bothered “too much” by the event but suggested an increase in police presence.
Guitron said that to make the event run smoother next year it's not just about adding more police power.
He said security, fencing and directional signage also play a part in the event's organization and flow.
“Police will have to re-evaluate its deployment, work with the property owner and Goldenvoice to provide all levels of services,” he said.
Goldenvoice this year paid a deposit to the city for $900,000 to cover city costs including public safety for both festivals.
Each year the amount of police coverage is evaluated and will be discussed again before the next festival and adjusted if need be, Guitron said.
David Yrigoyen, a neighbor of the polo grounds on the La Quinta side, recommends that a study be done to address issues such as traffic, dust control and lighting.
“This thing is growing and the traffic is horrendous,” he said. “It seems to me the venue isn't ready to take on that number (of attendees).”
Chris Escobedo, senior management analyst with the city, said those properties have been analyzed and they can support that type of use.
“An environmental analysis was completed in 1995, and it analyzed the various land uses for that site, which included festivals and special events,” he said via e-mail.