Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, citing "widespread opposition" in San Pedro to last summer's Beach Scene festival at harborfront Cabrillo Beach, has come out against a Beach Scene II, effectively killing plans to make the city-sponsored celebration an annual event.
"In view of the widespread opposition expressed by many San Pedro residents, I could not support or endorse a Beach Scene II in the harbor area, and no plans are being made to stage another such event," Bradley wrote in a March 9 letter to the San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners Coalition that was released by the homeowners group this week.
Sylvia Cunliffe, general manager of the city's General Services Department, which organized the event last year, said Wednesday that the beach festival cannot go forward without Bradley's support.
"If the mayor said he doesn't want it there, I think it is pretty clear what that means," she said.
Last year, city officials and radio station KIIS-FM, which co-sponsored the event, promoted the festival as the "First Annual Beach Scene." Bradley himself referred to the festival as "the start of something big."
But the two-day event attracted about 200,000 people to the small beach, about three times the number anticipated by the festival's planners. While police said the crowds were calm, beach-area residents and merchants along nearby Pacific Avenue complained about traffic, noise, litter and parking problems.
"All it ended up doing is trashing this town and trashing the beach," one businessman said at the time.
Dozens of residents complained to city officials, and both the San Pedro Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the homeowners' coalition, which represents 16 residents' organizations, formally opposed making the festival an annual event.
"We were concerned about the security and safety of homes in San Pedro and, frankly, we were also concerned that local businesses had not benefited," said Noah Modisett, president of the coalition. "The very nature of the location of Cabrillo Beach makes it almost impossible to control the ingress and egress of tens of thousands of people. It goes right through a residential neighborhood."
Bernie Evans, chief deputy to Los Angeles Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores, who repesents San Pedro, said Flores had also concluded that the festival "had too many problems" for it to be a regular event at Cabrillo Beach.
"There were just too many inconveniences and negative impacts on the community because of the large crowds," Evans said. "San Pedro just does not have the access to have an event with that many people."
Cunliffe, however, said the beach party was a "tremendous success" and that only "a limited number of people" in San Pedro complained about it. She defended the city's decision to hold the event last year at Cabrillo Beach.
"I feel that people who live at the beach come to other parts of the city," she said. "In the same way, the public (from other parts of Los Angeles) is entitled to use the beach."
Cunliffe said her department has not given up on holding a "summer event" similar to Beach Scene somewhere else in Los Angeles, not necessarily at a beach.
"I don't know what, where or when, but we do hope to do something this summer," she said. "We could have another summer event and not have it at the beach."
Dan Acree, a spokesman for KIIS-FM, said the radio station is also committed to holding a "similar event" this summer.
"I don't think it is important to do it in San Pedro," Acree said. "We don't want to force something on a community if they don't want it. . . . But there is no question that there will be a KIIS-FM summer event of the magnitude of last year's."