Access to area near Coachella Music Festival will be restricted
10:55 PM, Apr. 7, 2011
Written by Xochitl Peña
The Desert Sun
If you don't have an official wristband for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, forget about getting within a quarter-mile to mile of the Empire Polo Club next weekend.
Security provided by concert promoter Goldenvoice will be posted at traffic stops surrounding the venue in an attempt to curb loitering, scalpers and crafty music fans who try to jump fences or illegally maneuver into the venue. They will check passengers inside every vehicle for a wristband, said Ben Guitron, Indio Police Department spokesman.
He declined to share exactly where those traffic stops will be, saying Thursday: “It's part of our security plan. If everybody knows where the checkpoints are, they will try to bypass them.”
Despite the logistics of traffic stops on city streets, “we do not anticipate any additional traffic backups due to the checkpoints or the visual inspections of wristbands,” Jim Curtis, human services manager in charge of special events for the city, said via email.
The visual examination should be quick, Guitron said.
“If you hold up your wristband, it shouldn't take long. It's not going to be like a border crossing,” he said.
Actual scanning of the radio-frequency identification wristbands, new this year, will be done at the venue, Guitron said.
Police officers also will be posted at the security stops to make sure traffic continues to flow, he said.
Passes for residents
Residents who live in the blocked-off areas will have special passes that will allow them to pass through the area, Guitron said.
The city's code enforcement team has been visiting neighboring homeowners to discuss the concert and drop off the passes.
“Those people, when they reach a certain blocked-off street, will have to display a pass and will be let in,” Guitron said.
Indio City Councilman Sam Torres lives near the polo grounds and said he expects to get his special passes soon.
He anticipates a visit from his niece and nephew during the festival weekend and has requested additional passes for them so they can get through.
While residents affected by the concert should plan ahead for any visitors, Torres expects that won't always be the case.
“It's gonna happen that people might not have a pass but a legitimate reason to be there. We'll have to see how police or security handle the situations,” he said.
Should that happen, Guitron said residents inside the blocked areas have been informed how to handle the situation.
The drop-off and pick-up location for taxis and other drivers will not be affected by the checkpoints, Guitron said.
Taxis will be allowed at Avenue 52 and Madison Street and Avenue 50 and Monroe Street.
The designated spot for others dropping off or picking up concertgoers is at Avenue 50 and Monroe Street.
Like all changes, Guitron said the new wristband checkpoint plan will be monitored and adjusted if need be.
“We'll know how all this is functioning the first day of the concert. If we need to re-adjust, we will re-adjust,” he said.
Xochitl Peña covers Indio and Coachella for The Desert Sun. She can be reached at (760) 778-4647 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.