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Family vows to 'continue the fight' to make a Kern County music festival

KBAK/KBFX photo

A father-son duo said Tuesday they're brainstorming alternatives to create a music festival venue after the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously against their proposal.

At least two of the supervisors, Leticia Perez and Mick Gleason, expressed interest in the idea but not the venue, citing nearby agricultural concerns.

Phil and Daniel Rudnick state the project, called Cal Centre, would be along Interstate 5 and 7th Standard Road on a plot of 225 acres. It would host about 65,000 people for three events a year. It would have a 90-acre main festival area, five stages, parking areas, VIP parking, shuttle staging areas and camping spots for concertgoers.

While the pair admits they are disappointed by the county supervisors' decision, they've floated the idea of putting the concert to a vote on the June ballot. They also said they will continue communicating with the supervisors to see if another location would work better.

A major point of contention dealt with the space itself, which is surrounded by farmland. The county agriculture commissioner would consider it a special area during the concerts, forcing a quarter mile "no spray" buffer area. Surrounding property owners would have had to agree to that if approved.

Tuesday's proposal was an evolved vision from its original intent, formulated years ago, as a result of recommendations from the county planning commission that rejected the initial proposal. The Rudnicks said they also consulted with several public agencies, like Caltrans and local law enforcement.

The public comments during the meeting lasted about two hours, with many people arguing on either side. Among those in favor was Jacqueline Anderson, who said she spoke to give a voice to festival attendees.

“I love festivals. I’ve been to many: Stagecoach, Bottlerock in Napa, and Coachella," she said, adding she spends $2,000 to $5,000 at each event. “We’ve always had a wonderful time.”

Most of the public comments in favor of the proposal dealt with the economic impact such an event would bring to the county. Representatives from hotel managers, United Way, and small businesses spoke to the added value of more tourism. Dennis Layton, who helps supply audio and lighting equipment to other events around the state said he'd like to work on one closer to his home in the Central Valley.

“Many businesses that would also potentially benefit without having to travel," he said. “I would like to be one of them.”

The major rebuttal came from the neighboring farmers, who said the event would cut into their bottom line.

A Kern County Sheriff's Office representative said the department was not taking an official position but did say the county didn't have the resources to staff such an event.

He said the Inyo Police Department assigns a supervisor to plan security eight months prior to the Coachella festival. An event with 65,000 attendees, he said, would require 260 officers on staff each day.

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