HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — A judge Wednesday rejected a request by the city of Huntington Beach to stop a massive electronic dance party from being held over the weekend.
Judge Jamoa Moberly said the city couldn’t prove it would suffer “irreparable harm” from Saturday’s nine-hour Wet Electric at Huntington State Beach.
Last week, city leaders claimed they recently found out about the fest, which they feared would get out of control much like the U.S. Open of Surfing riots. They sought a temporary restraining order based on zoning laws.
Moberly, however, noted that the officials were notified about the event, which is located within the state’s jurisdiction, in an April meeting.
“The genuine concern is what they’re going to do when they leave,” said city attorney Jennifer McGrath. “They’re going to be at an event where alcohol is freely served between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m. Of course, I don’t know if people will stay the entire time, but the question is…are they going to be driving under the influence?”
The music festival, which is expected to draw between 8,000 to 10,000 people, has been permitted to serve alcohol.
Huntington Beach police, however, said as of late afternoon, event organizers were unable to obtain a liquor license.
Authorities said they will patrol the streets to prevent drunken driving and any sign of violence on Main Street.
“This is an alcohol event that has never been permitted on any of our city beach. We stopped doing that decades ago. This is encouraging people to spend the day in the sun and drinking alcohol and then they’re going to kick them all off the beach and then they’re going to be driving. That’s our biggest concern,” said Capt. Russell Reinhart.
Organizer Steve Thacher said the Wet Electric is for people 21 and older with ticket prices starting at $100.
He said despite planning the fest for a year, the city’s concerns were only recently revealed.
“We’ve taken lots of security precautions. We have 25 on-duty state police officers. They’re going to be around in the area making sure everything runs according to plan. We have 90-plus security guards. Not all inside the park, but throughout the parking lot, the perimeter, making sure that nothing spills out into the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Thacher.
Thacher said he’s organized the same event a dozen times in four different markets and has never had major problems.
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