Music festivals draw cash and criticism

Can you imagine if Woodstock had been a neatly organized, nicely controlled event? Who would’ve remembered it? But you can bet that if it had become an annual event, area residents would started to complain.

Although the annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival certainly hasn’t reached the scale — or the cultural significance — of Woodstock, it has already faced criticism from the community regarding issues from traffic and parking to noise and fan unruliness.

In response, festival officials have scheduled a hearing to give a platform to those wishing to express their concerns.

And organizers and city officials have listened to this type of input in the past: in recent years they have utilized parking control officers, tow trucks, and Muni transportation to mitigate some of the usual problems.

Supporters also plan to use the meeting to their benefit, though, by touting the economic benefits of large concerts — like the recent report that attendees of last year’s Outside Lands festival infused more than $60 million into the local economy.

Still, many people in the area don’t feel that enough is being done.

Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg is quick to point out, though, that area residents are not the bad guys here:

“I think most neighbors and community members understand [the economic benefits] and are very gracious and patient.”

Yet he noted that there’s always room for improvement, which is why the meeting is being held.

“Every year we try to get better and better. We see it as an ongoing conversation.”