City denies permits for April’s upcoming EarthFest
Morgan M. Hurley | Downtown Editor
The City of San Diego, represented by the office of Mayor Bob Filner, denied a permit application from San Diego Earth Works for their 24th annual EarthFair, which takes place each spring in Balboa Park on Earth Day.
This year’s event is scheduled to fall on April 22.
According to the Earth Works website, the City’s issue stems from upcoming changes to Balboa Park’s structure in advance of the park’s centennial celebration and the liability concerns that would create.
On Jan. 7, Earth Works CEO Carolyn Chase, CFO Chris Klein and board member Ahouva Steinhaus, were able to secure a meeting with the mayor and his deputy chief of staff to address the future of the popular EarthFair.
After the meeting, which an update on the Earth Works website called “productive,” the mayor issued a statement through the media, saying in part, “the City is making every effort to accommodate the event and at the same time provide a safe environment for attendees.”
With “liability” deemed the main reason for the denial, Chase said they already carry “the standard $2 million of liability required for special events all over the city,” and she is confident they can get more if the City outlines the specifics so they can get a proper assessment.
“I’m doing everything I can think of to move it forward,” Chase said in a phone call. “If it’s really about liability we can manage that. They want us to move to the west side of Balboa Park … but how does that improve the liability?”
Filner was asked about the debate this week at the Hillcrest Town Council Meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 9.
“The Earth Day event is a great thing … I went to the first one … I have a long history with it and they have a long history in San Diego,” he said.
The mayor then told the group that prior to him taking office a decision was made that would affect all large events in the park due to the “incredibly large construction project” that the bridge and parking changes would create. Since a challenge to that construction will be heard in early February, the status is currently halted.
“[Earth Works] were offered the west side, the Sixth Avenue side … a 25 acre site that has a different configuration, a different amount of grass and concrete, but they said no,” the mayor said. “If the liability is real, they will have to adapt.”
He promised to look closely at the situation one more time before making a final decision.
For more information, visit the earthdayweb.org website.