"Akit is the man. He knows Clipper." (spenta)
"It’s a fantastic blog for any San Franciscan."
"Your blog is always on point, and well researched!" (Nina Decker)
"Everyone's favorite volunteer public policy consultant..." (Eve Batey, SF Appeal)
"You are doing a great job keeping on top of Translink stuff. Keep up the good work!"
(Greg Dewar, N Judah Chronicles)
"...I don't even bother subscribing anywhere else for my local public transportation info. You have it all..."
(Empowered Follower)
"If anyone at City Hall wants to make public transit better for all San Franciscans, it would be wise to follow Akit religiously...
or, better yet, give him a job."
(Brock Keeling, SFist)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Outside Lands Festival - Goodbye, Get Lost, and Never Come Back

It is such a relief that I can now post this and say that San Francisco's huge disaster festival known as Outside Lands is finally over. Criticism from the commentators of SFgate and other blog sites have noted this to be an entire disaster.

It is not just the residents surrounding Golden Gate Park (the Richmond, Sunset, and Panhandle), but all the people who experienced the nightmare known as Muni and those who had to walk miles to hopefully catch the last BART and even Caltrain back home.

Also, Jack Johnson headlining? I'm going to puke. Jack Johnson sucks. They used to play his crap on one of my favorite radio stations and I called the station to tell them to kill off his songs! And you know what, they did.

So let's look at the final comments after the entire event from the Chronicle/SFgate:

From shastasky of SFgate:
"What a difference than any other concert in GG Park?! Sound out at RadioHead a few times, trampling at the fences, long lines, over-priced items, trash inside the venue and in the nearby neighborhood, a few cars broken into, one big fight (Friday)-- missed Sunday-- I could hear the music on Sunday from a half mile away. Good music-- very poor planning. Not again next year! APE should go back to Oakland! One of the promoters owns the Independent-- let's trash that place like what happened to the park! I like one day concerts in the park. This was overboard; not like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass or Green Apple. Supes Carmen Chu and Jake McGoldrick-- was it worth it to your districts and the park? 3 day events-- go to Pier 30 - 32 where the X games were held. 150,000 fans-- don't think so. Rothbury, High Sierra, etc. were better this year. Again, the planning was horrible! I'll point fingers at Another Planet, first and foremost, then Supe Chu and McGoldrick and Parks and Rec. Never again!"

From norcalguy101 of SFgate:
"Gosh...if there were only 6,000 porta-poties and 150,000 in attendance...that works out to 25 people per porta-potty...now I'm even happier I didn't "go" there..."

From wesquire of SFgate:
"WOW - way to insult my neighborhood innerrichmond - go F yourself and thanks for giving me one more reason to complain to the City about this event. The patrons were rude, walking in the middlke of the streets where there were not cross walks, doing drugs outside my house, leaving trash everywhere in the park and in the street. What pigs people are. You may be trendy, but you have no substance."

From anderthalneal of SFgate:
"GREENWASH--eco-friendly event my a$. Thousands of pounds of plastic cups, thousands of plastic wrist bands and plastic badges, tons of plastic plates, plastic forks, spoons, knives, hundreds of dorks driving in circles for hours trying to find a place to park. Tour buses idling for HOURS. Gotta get a buzz from that diesel exhaust. How much energy was used to amplify the crappy music? The only thing organic about this festival was the hippy poop."

From shastasky of SFgate:
"this is not the first concert in GG Park-- many that came before were much better planned and executed. the music was good at Outside Lands.... APE has a lot of experience, but missed this one in a big way. i think they are the 10th or 11th largest production company for these events. can you believe that?! it was deplorable considering their experience. where was the coordination with the City and MUNI-- this was on the producers as it normally at venues. most of the crowd was fine-- but there were scores of people trashing the neighborhoods both in the Sunset and Richmond. Let's see how APE responds and cleans. It is not an event for GG Park-- so many over the years have been "stellar" and a few have missed the mark-- this one was well off base. i was there Fri. and Sat. and live in the neighborhood. bad for the park, the neighborhood, and likely the city. just saying a one day gig usually works out. this one didn't; too problematic for too many people. many on these posts were there"

From dwjsf of SFgate:
"It was noisy. There was a lot of traffic. Lot of rude folks. Hope it doesn't come back next year."

In summary of this whole fiasco, the organization of the festival was poor, Muni was not prepared for the masses (screw the union), and residents of the affected neighborhoods were not notified of park road closures or received very little information (the morons of inaccurate information at 311 and the supervisor's office, and no information posted on the event's website).

The blame and my MIDDLE FINGER goes to Outside Lands, SFMTA/SF Muni, 311, 511, Mayor Newsom, Park and Rec department, San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and anyone else who played a role in this event.

To the organizers of the Outside Lands Festival (concert):
Bye bye! Never come back!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Outside Lands Festival - Muni Terrible, Complaints, and Not Making Friends

The Outside Lands festival (concert) is getting some really negative reviews for its Friday evening concert, from complaints about packed Muni buses and trains, loud noise, and 30 minute waits to go to the bathroom.

First of all, I am going to post the complaint information. This is from SF 311's event calendar:

Outside Lands has a community hotline to respond to any issues that might affect the community during the festival which will be available 11 am to 11 pm on festival days (415) 387-1935.

Now, since this complaint line is private and more than likely the data they collect won't be released to the city government, here's some more information to complain:
  • To complain about Muni, call: 311.
  • To complain to your city supervisor: http://www.sfgov.org/site/bdsupvrs_index.asp and click on your supervisor for contact info.
  • To complain to the Park and Rec department who issued the permit: (415) 831-3700.


Now readers, let us view the comments from SFgate, Curbed SF, and SFist about how the event is going. This is sorted out by categories:

For Muni's terrible service:

From Fsharp of SFist:
"I just got back from the Outside Lands festivals. DO NOT RIDE THE N JUDAH TO THE SHOW THIS WEEKEND.

Sorry for the shouting but really. We waited at Embarcadero for over 30 minutes for the first N to show up at 5PM on a completely packed platform.

Once we squeezed in, it was a nightmarish 55 minute ride to 19th ave with asses and elbows everywhere. In 22 years here I've never been on a train here that crowded.

It was another 25 minute wait to get another N out and back home. Again packed and excruciatingly slow.
We left in the middle of the Radiohead show because we were so worried about getting home on Muni. (Also Radiohead's sound kept cutting out completely in mid-song).

Ride your bike or take a cab. The increased N service is a lie.

Also, if you cab it, or take Muni anyway, go to Sunset ave not 19th like it says in on the festival web site. The entrance is a long walk from 19th."

From Greg of SFist, and author of the N Judah Chronicles:
"Folks from the air it looks groovy with lots of Ns on the line in and outbound. But reports from NJC agents indicate it's a perfect storm of drunks, cars, traffic, and a lack of DPT presence.


From erik_flannestad of SFist:
"Oh, Jesus Holy Christ what a nightmare that was getting home from the Outlands concert. 2 1/2 hours from the sunset to Glen Park.

We coulda walked it in that time."

From noneyabidnis of SFist:
"I wish I would have brought my camera. My experience with Muni was miserable.

We decided to walk north and catch the number 1 at 29th and California. NextBus said 16 minutes, 39 minutes, and 39 minutes.

First bus shows up as expected, 15-17 minutes later. Completely packed. Our stop had probably 40 people at it. Bus just blew through.

So we decided to walk California inbound. Block after block of completely packed stops, everyone wondering what was going on with the buses. I'm shocked a riot didn't break out.

We walked California all the way to Maple and California (from 29th) - not one bus came on the inbound route. 4 passed going outbound.

Walked up Sacramento, and at Sacramento and Cherry there was a 43 line bus just sitting there. Completely empty, minus two people asleep in the back, and no driver. Unbelievable.

I called 311 on the treck down California and they said Muni were doing all they could. Filed a formal complaint as well. I wasn't very nice to the lady, and I feel bad now - it certainly wasn't her fault. But I did get the complaint filed... I just wish I could apologize to the nice lady I talked to.

Also sent a message to Mr. Ford, using this link:


I'll try to get some photos of the bus fiasco.

Also, 60,000+ people in attendance friday night. Let's say 20,000 people don't take the bus, that means 40 buses can take the whole crowd if they squeeze 1000 people on a bus."

From munchkin of SFist:
"Last night I walked all the way to 22nd where the 71 turns, so a bunch of us caught it before it got to the crowd of walking people on Lincoln. It wasn't planned though- we were passed by several packed N trains."

From 99paa of SFist:
"Coming back last night from radiohead, two N trains in a row wouldn't even stop to let people on -- and they were empty! the extra muni fare inspectors were yelling at muni hq on their cell phones to make the trains, you know, actually pick people up.

then one N did stop, not at an actual stop, and opened the doors. it then started moving while the last door was still open. i'm surprised nobody died.

great job, muni!"

From looist of SFist:
"Let me sum up both Muni and Outside Lands in one word: Clusterf*ck.

5 mostly jammed busses in a row (3 had space in the back, typical Muni style) flew by Fulton and Masonic, none stopped. So we walked for a while and were lucky enough to bully our way into a cab.

On the way home there was no way in hell we were getting on a bus. Every bus that passed by was full of miserable sardines.

All of the private town cars/limos and airport shuttle vans caught on but were charging exorbitant rates, $40 for 20 blocks. And they weren't willing to negotiate down.

The show itself is really poorly organized too. Such a disappointment. I hope they get their acts together today and tomorrow. Someone will probably lose their job over this."

From skeletal_lamper of SFist:
"what an absolute fiasco.

my girlfriend and i had planned to go way early at 3 pm and already at this time, buses were not picking up hordes of people at the stops. at least six 5 buses passed us on the corners of mcallister and hyde/larkin and only one was full. there was tons and tons of space on these buses on the back and drivers refused to stop. one bus stopped to drop a passenger off and didnt open the front door.

we walked to market and decided our luck on the 71 and the first one we saw was completely packed so we decided to fuck any of the lines that were supposed to "help outside lands commuters" and get to the 38 geary, which we got on on our first try.

i just read an article that festivals pay muni up to 2000 - 4000 dollars to re-route their buses when they close down streets. and these are miniscule festivals. i can only imagine what the organizers of outside lands paid muni for to get us festival-goers to the park. and they can't even do their fucking job and stop for us when the buses are half-empty.

on the way home, and this might be useful to anyone going back to the financial district or nob hill or inner richmond tonight or tomorrow, we walked back to geary and their were hordes of people waiting for the 38 without much luck. we went to the starting point of the california 1 on geary and 33rd (it faces westbound and turns on 33rd) and were able to get on it right away. however, it did not stop AT ALL for any festival goers on the way even though our bus was NOT FULL at all. what motherfuckers."

From smiley1 of SFgate:
"When Muni said to "expect delays on the N Judah" they weren't kidding. It took me almost 2 hours to get home when it usually takes me 45 min. But hey, I heard the music perfectly from my house."

From Noeist of SFgate:
"Agree with most posters. 2 1/2 hours to get home, and would usually take 45 minutes. No cabs to be found. Got on some "express bus to Civic Center" that just dumped a lot of people in the Haight. Incredible lines. Couldn't see anything at RH - way too big. This is why I don't go to these huge shows. That said, the crowd was very, very laid-back and chill, even when frustratingly waiting for N-Judah and then shoved onto buses 100 at a time headed who knows where. If I had a 3-day ticket, I'd skip the next two days, or leave at least an hour before the end to try to beat the crowds."

From sunsetsaint of SFgate:
"Has anyone blamed Muni yet? Riding the N-Judah during rush hour is, as all locals know, unbearably unpleasant every day. Yesterday it was ridiculous -- you couldn't even board because each street car was jam-packed with people who don't live here. After passing up several of the cattle cars, I finally managed to squeeze in between a bunch of scraggly characters (Was a scuzzy appearance required for festival attendance?). It took me twice as long to get home. Clearly, there was no public transit planning; special buses should have transported the festival-goers so that locals could have just suffered as usual."

From an anonymous poster of Curbed SF:
"Left the show at 9:55pm immediately after Radiohead got off the stage. Swam through hundreds of people, walked to Judah, only to find every N Judah Muni packed to the gills. Ended up walking about 20+ blocks to catch the #6 bus to Civic Center where we caught the last train to Oakland. Got back to the East Bay at about 12:30am due to maintenance on the tracks. I suspect plenty o' people missed the last BART."

From mariesnews of SFgate:
"Before the even getting to the concert. The promoters, muni and the city said to take public transit. There would be lots of extra cars and buses. What happened? The N-Judah broke down at 4th and Irving. There were already six trains there when our train arrived and there was nobody from muni to fix the problem. We ended up walking down Lincoln with hundreds of other people. In the time we walked to the event only two 71's came by and they didn't stop. WHERE were the extra buses. Once again muni lied."

Akit says: Damn, this is just Muni alone...

Now let us look at the event complaints:

From rationalgal of SFist:
"re: chainlink fences again. I thought they had been put up to keep people out, but apparently they had been put up to "funnel" people in and out of venues as well. I saw a report on the local CBS newscast this morning that there was a near stampede when too many people got crammed between the fences, and the fences had to be breached. One attendee said that they had to hop over the fence to avoid being trampled. You're right, looist, poorly organized indeed. Heads should roll. Anyone out there who was there when this happened, who can give us a firsthand account?"

From theRichmond of SFgate:
"I've lived here for over 20 years, and these are the worst folks in Golden Gate Park ever. Screaming in the streets afterwards, throwing shopping carts down the street, running stop signs. And there is absolutely no security to be seen. Hopefully, this event will never be allowed again."

From mastermikeyb of SFgate:
"NOT GREAT. 1st, they were no way prepared for this many people-the lines that people were waiting in starting with WillCall, ID Braclets, Beer/Wine, Food, Bathrooms, anything you may have wanted to do, were HORRENDOUS. To wait for 30-40 minutes to get a drink? Come on... 2nd, this was billed through the media (and JackJohnson) as a 'Leave No Trace' Evnt, but is was nothing of the sort. There was garbage EVERYWHERE. Even the guy who was giving out ID bracelets was just throwing the wrapper that was left after he attached it onto the ground. When I asked him about the fact that this was a LNT, he just shrugged and said that it would be picked up--yeah right! 3rd. The Sound by MEYER SOUND was BAD! During Radiohead alone it went COMPLETELY out 3 x during the show. Radiohead kept playing, but no one could hear a thing. 4th. Overlapping Artists sets is bad enough, but trying to get from one stage to another was silly. I give this a 2 out of 10. They could do MUCH better!"

From mcmunchkin of SFgate:
"The multiple recycling/garbage/composting bins were well planned, but other more important considerations were not. They closed off the entire bank of 30 porta-potties near the Radiohead (main) stage. The line for the normal park bathrooms was over half an hour. The other bank of porta-potties on the Polo green was near the only narrow path to get from the Polo grounds to the Sutro stage. This thing was dangerous. The fence was down, so there was pointy metal the entire way, with people pushing through a narrow 20 foot gap, anxious to get to the next band in time. People were desperate for bathrooms. They were running past the guards through the woods just trying to find a place to pee. Anyone there for Saturday and Sunday should give themselves a lot of bathroom time, because I doubt they fixed both those situations overnight. Radiohead was awesome, except when the sound cut out twice."

From adampasz of SFgate:
"Major disappointment. It tried to be Coachella, but failed. I was looking forward to *seeing* Beck and Radiohead, and I couldn't due to the enormous crowds. Whoever was in charge of scheduling for this thing should be fired. The 1st half of the event was packed with bands, so there was no way to catch most of them; the 2nd half of the night was dedicated just to Radiohead. So you have 50,000+ people all trying to cram into the front of the Polo Fields because there's nothing else to do. There was a tiny video screen that looked about 32x32 pixels in resolution. At $100 this was a rip-off, and I would urge people not to attend if they haven't bought tickets yet. You can just sit outside the concert, in the woods, and get the same experience of hearing but not seeing your favorite bands. I agree with the other posters that the crowd was very mellow, and I didn't see people trashing stuff. I was surprised by all the smokers -- cough."

From manyboymom of SFgate:
"Just drove through GGP at 8 am and the park is trashed! Garbage everywhere. Not sure how they got a permit for the music to be so loud - I love radiohead but that was ridiculous. I think the neighborhood has had enough of these mega events. Leave no trace my a**."

From sluefootsue of SFgate:
"I spoke to the head of Park and Rec yesterday to complain. No environmental impact report was required by the city and the Parks and Rec decided that, even thoug their job is to be guardians of the parks, they would't require one either. Basically, the Parks and Rec are selling a public area to the highest bidder. And why isn't the Chronicle or other media covering the frustration and anger at the poor planning by the concert promoter? This type of greedy dismissiveness endangers the park, its wildlife, and the surrounding neighborhood. Bluegrass in the Park does a wonderful job in contrast. And it's free for the public on public lands!"

From inkandpaint of SFgate:
"This was a fail. Beck's stage was sloped downhill so nobody could see him. the narrow walkway back to the polo fields for radiohead was crammed and people tore down the fences. radiohead was good but the sound cut out. there were lines everywhere. poorly planned. i bought a three day ticket but won't be going back"

From jjups of SFgate:
"This was one of the worst put together shows ever. In comparison to Jazzfest in New Orleans which charges less and offers way more, your $100 got you nothing but headaches. Moving around the grounds was so bad that people had to start ripping down fences to move from one venue to another. I am not going to even begin talking about the lines to get anything."

From JANDEK of SFgate:
"Overall, I give the festival a 2 out of 10 as well. The audio during Radiohead cutting out twice at an event that costs what it does is unacceptable. Luckily for the concert promoters, their performance was a 10, otherwise it would have got a 1 or 0. The overlapping bands playing all over the park was the worst bit of planning, it made it impossible to see multiple bands. The trash everywhere and the ridiculous lines for everything just point to an amateur hour operation. Outlands Festival=Fired"

From jmusick of SFgate:
"Though the crowd did a good job at remaining calm - there were moments that people were on the verge of panic/fights about crushing/trampling. As the crowds left Beck and tried to push towards the front for Radiohead, there were many people at the front that were getting scared and started frantically trying to exit. Don't know what other places do in that situation, but it was by far the closest I've been to crowd-panic because of inability to move anywhere."

From Nezumi of SFgate:
"This was the LOUDEST concert in the Polo Field in over 25 years. I had to turn the volume on my TV up to around 8 (usually on 2) in order to hear anything. Why doesn't the City think about using McLaren Park for large events? Why do all these events have to impact the Richmond and Sunset districts? Spread the love, noise and mess around. Concertgoers, when you are walking back to your cars or to the veritable missing MUNI, please do not shout when talking to the person 18 inches away from you. I heard all of your conversations through double paned glass. Promoter, hire a third-party transportation company. MUNI only makes around 69% of their normally scheduled runs, adding more makes the natives angrier than they already are. FYI, MUNI stands for Maybe U Not Important."

From birdwomansf of SFgate:
"Nezumi-you must be my neighbor. I could not believe the volume. My house felt like it was shaking. Ridiculous. Think of the effect on the poor animals in the park that were freaked out. No to next year. Find somewhere else. No to night time performances. Total disregard for the neighbors, the animals and the environment. This is suppose to be a park."

From rwaring of SFgate:
"For many of the fans, the only way out was to exit the field through the two north and and south narrow tunnels. At the south tunnel, as several thousand people were pushing toward the south tunnel, many in the crowd talked about the risk of a stampede. This situation was insane and was poorly planned. Finally, the crowd knocked down some fences and streamed over the hill. A nest of bees then began to swarm and scores of fans were stung. Because of fences around where the bees were, there was no way around the swarm. My wife got stung twice. This all would have been avoided if the crowd had more exits without bottlenecks."

From jfm of SFgate:
"Outside Lands was a disaster, salvaged only by the greatness of Radiohead. Note that all complaints about the lines, the crowds, the poor planning get nearly all thumbs up. I GUARANTEE there was AT LEAST 80,000 people in there - in violation of their permit. The promoters must have decided the (understandably) weak sales for Sat and Sun (portending a money losing FAILURE) could be buttressed by OVERSELLING Friday. Ridiculous. Half the crowd we had would have been bearable. It should be about perfect Sat and Sunday, where weaker lineups will draw smaller crowds."

From thenisaid of SFgate:
"I stood in line during Beck's whole show to get a beer. That didn't matter, though, because you couldn't see him- no screens and someone placed a large white tent in a terrible spot. There were way too many people, definitely not worth $85. And leaving the event was impossible; ended up having to walk from 25th ave all the way to Haight and Masonic. Radiohead was great but that's about it."

From sftroybob of SFgate:
"Don't be surprised if this turns out to be one of those shows where people are killed by being crushed in the crowd. Despite that lesson being learned time and again, the organizers here are doing no kind of crowd control, and they're leaving the main act for one stage at the end of the night, with the audience areas not divided up and with nobody else playing at the same time, pretty much guaranteeing that there is going to be a crush of people from the very back that is going to hit the front in waves."

From hennessymade of SFgate:
"This festival was a disappointment. The scheduling was bad, the park was completely over-crowded, and the amount of people peeing all over the park (due to lack of restrooms) was disgusting. I feel sorry for the people who have to clean up after this disaster. The bands I saw were fantastic, but getting anywhere near the stage was impossible. I'm not paying for this next year."

From jcfinsf of SFgate:
"The music was terrific (save the inexcusable dropped sound during Radiohead), and everyone seemed up for having a good time. A bit on the cool side, too, but hey, it's August and the fog looked cool under the lights. But, come on, it's fair to admit that the organizers were in way, way over their heads last night. The lines were awful and the planning for moving hordes of people about insane. The path between the Polo Field and Sutro stage area was about twenty yards wide. Of course, in the middle of that path, too, was the largest collection of bathrooms. And then you had tens of thousands trying to get through that confined area with just ten minutes between Beck and Radiohead at different stages. Why? I overheard a few of the medics talking that there could be a first-class emergency there if luck wasn't on their side. Luck was: people just knocked over the fencing and hiked it every which way. And security? It needed to be doubled. I'd say this event has little chance of an encore"

From briansabeans of SFgate:
"As someone who lives on 25th and Irving, this thing sucked. No I didn't care about the noise -- I had no problem with being able to hear free Radiohead while sitting at home. No, my problem was the ridiculous crowds. You simply could not get around the neighborhood whatsoever. Parking was impossible. Utter scuzzbuckets were everywhere...or were they? Actual genuine trash wouldn't have been able to afford these tickets, so it was probably just a bunch of rich Marin kids dressed like bums and acting like criminals. I have no problem if they do this again so long as they figure out a way to keep the streets unclogged. The Sunset is simply not built to accomodate this kind of crowd."

From southbaygurl of SFgate:
"I hope the organizers read these comments. I went for Radiohead and Beck, couldn't see a thing! Beck had no screens and the screens at Radiohead were ridiculously small. The lines for IDs were stupid long (skipped them all together) and the lines for the porta potties were long, and they were nasty. Getting in and out of the park on public transport was a mess. We walked for an hour and 1/2 after the show before being able to get transport. There was no directional signage in or around the festival. So glad I didn't buy a 3-day ticket. And they'd have to have a huge headliner like Radiohead for me to consider going back next year. Someone should talk to the organizers of Coachella. It's a much larger festival (more talent, more attendees) and runs like a well-oiled machine (with clean porta potties). Sad, but maybe GG park just can't handle this sort of event."

From catalystgrrl of SFgate:
"It was truly crap. The sound went out 3 times in the middle of Radiohead's set. The crowd was aggro. Garbage everywhere. Whoever planned the event had absolutely zero forethought. After an hour's wait in line at the ATM (which one of five worked occasionally) and then an hour's wait for a beer, I was kindly told I needed to wait in the hour long line for an ID bracelet, only to get back in the hour long line for a beer, miss the entire Beck show because it was all the way across the park on the other side, through which 60,000 people were expected to pass through an unreasonable thoroughfare... Really awful. I'll never go again. To anything. Ever. [okay I'll totally be at hardly strictly bluegrass ( ;]"

From fingafing of SFgate:
"I could hear this last night & I live over 1 mile away from the Park. The entire area is one big garbage dump - who is paying for the cleanup, taxpayers or the promoter?"

From sfhinsf of SFgate:
"I live TWELVE blocks from the stage. It's clear that no one realizes that this area of the park is a bowl and like a natural loudspeaker -- much more so when it's FOGGY. is HIGH in my house with windows close. I like music and I like a lot of these bands -- but imagine THREE days (sound checks started at 1 p.m. on Friday) of this from 1 p.m.l to 10 p.m.? Plus I have to park in my driveway for 3 days -- or odds are someone will block me in. Ending at 10 p.m. means people drunk loud on street until midnight -and we're in quiet neighborhoods. Plus, I run in the pk everyday -- fences us everywhere since Weds. & will be till end of Mon. We already to Bay to Breakers, the Marathon, Hardly Strictly and many other events that are a lot of hassle in this hood. How come Hardly Strictly has to stop at 8 p.m., but these guys don't? They're right, the City doesn't care about Park or residents -- it's just TOTAL GREED -- and NO parking. I chose to buy in a quiet 'hood -- not next to PacBell Park!"

Another from sfhinsf of SFgate:
"I run in the Park about 5 days a week...past Lloyld Lake, through Speedway, 2 or 3 times around Polo Field. You have NO IDEA the destruction that these shows do. It's a nightmare -- esp. the HUGE HEAVY trucks that drive over grass and trails and leave DEEP ruts that are still there in rainy season...when the ground turns into concrete...so we end up with ridege 4 & 5" high to run over. Ruin the lawns. Golden Gate Park is one of San Francisco's greatest treasures, but because it's "way out there" on the West Side, no one gives a damn. Hello! It's the backyard for an awful lot of people -- and I'm not sure you'd like to see your backyard trashed 5 or 6 times a year Yeah, I want the Park to be used -- and I like concerts here. But one of this size, with this many acts, attacting this many people and three days long is NOT appropriate. Hardly Strictly is mostly acoustic and attracts a very different crowd."

From dumbnative of SFgate:
"it is evident that the park and reck is no better then the bus at city hall. They sell their mothers soul to the devil. I wonder what sombody got out of this? To close off that much of the park for more then three days and disrupt two residential neighborhood with traffic and noise it's not except able. Evedently the two stupervisors of the distric age sent to the park dont give a hoot about their constituents. They probably got a nice campaing contribution."

From bigthings of SFgate:
"I was attacked by a swarm of angry bees on my way out! I was stung three times. Talk about a buzz kill!"

From hawky of SFgate:
"Expect more of this type of park use from Rec & Park (Wreck the Park) They'll sell their soul to earn a few bucks and pimp out our beautiful park like a cheap whore. Pity the gardeners who will try to heal this damage to the landscape. Oh, and Chron: ask the beat gardeners about the massive damage the set-up did to the park's irrigation system. At least at the free shows there is no need for fences so no metal fence poles driven through the water lines. Will the bond put forth by the concert company even cover all the damage done? Just ask Yomi, he's a numbers man."

From luvfothaset of SFgate:
"It's a blessing no one got hurt. I was in the middle of the crowd at WOMAD when Beastie Boys came to GG Park. They had two stages that were next to each other, but fans still rush from to the other. That is when it gets ugly and people start getting crushed and panicking. Needless to say it got ugly and I literally feared for my life. I was about 5 seconds away from climbing over people. Luckily people started shouting 'Walk away!! Walk Away!!' and the crowd started to de-compact. But with this many people it is like an ocean of energy with currents and swells. Just don't get caught in a tide pool. I hate crowds now and try to avoid these types of venues where you need binoculars. I can still remember girls screaming and being trapped."

From bobsicle of SFgate:
"I'm at Geary and 25th avenue, INSIDE an apartment, and I can hear the sound. I had sort of forgotten about the festival, so I actually thought my upstairs neighbor was playing his stereo loud, which struck me as odd because he is so quiet. Only when I went outside and still heard the noise did I remember, oh, right... that festival. Fortunately, I didn't move my car. As usual, the bridge and tunnel crowd invade like a horde of Mongols, parking illegal everywhere."

From bigbite of SFgate:
"None of these bands are worth the ticket price,they should call it the RIP OFF FESTIVAL."

From AmericanMark of SFgate:
""Environmental" groups sponsoring the trashing of the park? Ridiculous. But these groups are just a business, like any other. The dollar is their bottom line."

From mailbean of SFgate:
"Some neighbors were none too happy"? Somehow I think that's a serious understatement. I live somewhere around half a mile from this thing, and yet I can still hear it. It's on the other side of the park, and yet hundreds of kids are still crowding my streets, hanging around, loitering, doing who knows what. This area is usually fairly quiet: home to a large number of seniors, working people, and young children. This ridiculous event has made a outlaying residential area look like a busy downtown area and feel like the middle of a riot zone."

From bobsicle of SFgate:
"rdframe -- "it is only a three day festival. Any damage done was minor compared to the revenue (MILLIONS) brought in by the event both from the organizers and from the associated tourist." Exactly WHAT revenue are you talking about? The promoters made their money and the bands got paid. What's left over? The tourists spent nothing that wasn't on the event itself. So what money are you talking about? As is typical for these events, the amount the city collects isn't enough even for the cleanup."

From therichmond of SFgate:
"The park is trashed. There are people screaming and fighting in the streets up here as this even lets out, and then they are trashing the houses. The public services are over taxed - no buses, police or even taxis for us locals. I doubt if the City will be able to cover its expenses. And worst of all, no one is spending money at the businesses. The regulars are staying away from the restaurants because of the crowds and no one from the event is replacing them. GOOD JOB!"

OK now, let's sum this whole crap hole up. Muni was totally unreliable with packed vehicles, scams happening with those luxury cars and airport vans charging an arm and leg for only 20 blocks worth of driving, cab drivers refusing to pick-up people in the event area, huge lines so that you can get your $7 beer, near stampedes, broken down fences, and over capacity crowds.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Outside Lands Festival - No Park Street Closure Information

It is starting to become a tradition here in San Francisco that whenever there's a major festival and this is their first one, they never notify the residents affected by the event about street closures.

Well here comes the new Outside Lands festival (concert) event that is consuming a huge part of Golden Gate Park. So this billionaire thinks of this great idea and gets the necessary permits to do it, I say, well a good idea there.

Then the residents don't get told about how this will hurt them. For this event, people who live in the Sunset, Richmond, and Panhandle areas will be greatly affected, especially if you take the bus or drive.

The festival's website DOES NOT have any information about street closures in the park. I noticed one sign saying that Chain of Lakes will be closed, but I noticed that when I was driving home last week Friday.

I checked the SFMTA's website about closures, and there is barely any information.

I checked the 511 website about closures, and they just tell you to expect heavy traffic and take the bus.

Then there's the folks at 311. The first time, I get this guy who immediately says that he will transfer me to the 511 call center. Well the 511 automated system does not have any information at all. Then I call back and speak to another person and ask the same question, and she puts me on hold for ten minutes, and says there are "no street closures." I asked her what her source of information is, and she says it's from the SFMTA website. Yeah, that's very accurate when I know that at least one park road is closed and one park street entrance is shut down.

And just to insult the folks at 311... here's a comment left on SFgate's comment section about their promotion of the concert:
"Getting around the park to get out of the Sunset and to work was hell this morning. The concert organizers didn't even bother to notify the locals of street closures in advance. They could've suggested an alternate route. I've not experienced this kind of GGP take-over before, not even with those free concerts. Who do these people think they are? Oh, and the city quickly patched up some potholes on Fulton to make the ride a bit smoother. The rest of the year, they don't care about the Outside Lands..."

I did not want to do this, but now I'm waiting for a reply back from Supervisor McGoldrick's office because at least they have more power than the average citizen to get the information what we all need. It always seems that when 311, SFMTA, SFPD, and other local agencies can't get their information straight, McGoldrick's office is always on top of it getting the most accurate information for the folks (like me) in the Richmond.

This blog will be updated with closures as soon as possible.

UPDATE 6:23PM: Did not receive any e-mail from McGoldrick's office. Looks like we are going in this event blind people.

UPDATE 7:09PM: Why don't we grind our axes? Here's some more quotes from local residents from my favorite place, SFist:

RationalGal says:
"The chainlink fences went up around the event perimeters early this week, and cars were already being denied access into the park at 41st and 25th Avenues on the Sunset side at 10:00 a.m. this morning. Private enterprise in public places?..."

Shibi's comment about Muni being a much worse hellhole (than it already is):
"I'm home now and I've washed the funk off, guzzled some wine and I've pretty much recovered, but at 4pm all of the Market/Haight Street buses were ALREADY packed hell-rides."

Also to add, it is not just first-time festivals, but also first-time marathons. I had an ax to grind with the first Nike marathon when my neighborhood turned into a virtual prison with the marathon route going on the west side (Great Highway), north side (covering Pt. Lobos and other streets), east side (27th avenue) and south side (the entire Golden Gate Park). It got so bad that I lodged a complaint at Supervisor McGoldrick's office and he called a HEARING AT CITY HALL and I spoke out arguing that it was not just the event organizers, but the city as well for not having consistent information to all their agencies. When I called the Richmond SFPD station about the marathon, it resulted in an "I don't know" answer. I wonder, if there is a serious incident and the cops need to get through a marathon, and have a lack of knowledge about what's going on, they'll be very late in saving my butt. I remember talking to a police officer on the phone and said that lack of information is total bullshit (yes, I said "bullshit"), he totally agreed with me.

Lastly, kudos to Curbed SF and Eye on Blogs (KPIX/CBS 5) for spreading the news.

UPDATE: 7:24PM: Yep, the complaints keeps coming in.

Howardwasright on SFgate says:
"Just walked the dog through the park and was astounded to see the entire west end of the park closed to traffic...except VIP pass holders who can park inside the park. Add to that the fact that the park is gonna be TRASHED--literally and figuratively. Already the roads in and out of the park are covered with garbage. Yuk. And you think there was pee-pee after the marathon??"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BRING IT ON: The Japantown Festival Controversy

The Japantown Festival threat controversy alone is bringing a ton of attention to Akit's Complaint Department and I will not let this issue down until Japantown's festivals will be saved and kept, and the tenant's association and developer apologizes in writing for their absolutely hateful letters. The Nihonmachi Street Fair may be over, but I won't give up.

Outside of the Japanese American media, I am especially greatful to the folks at Curbed SF and SF Citizen for their efforts to spread the word.

Reading Curbed SF's comments, I came around to reading this very hurtful comment left by an anonymous poster (comment #15):
What a group of losers! Your street fairs stink and your know it. I live on Bush and Laguna and look at those pathetic festivals as the last gasp of a gang of out-of neighborhood activists who don't even live in the 'hood. What's Vietnamese BBQ, the SFPD and sellers of cruddy womens clothes have to do with this neighborhood or its heritage. Sorry dudes, trying to save those lousy malls with their tired businesses will never make it. Time to put a Whole Foods/Trader Joe's in there -- something people actually want. Time for you to move on since none of you live here -- suspect most of you are mostly bridge and tunnel anyway with your parents parked in their segregated retirement ghettos.

Here is my reaction that I posted about one hour after it was posted (comment #16):

EXCUSE ME? If you don't like Japantown, get lost.

I am appalled that you do not have any respect for the Japantown neighborhood. We have been kicked out due to internment and redevelopment. We can't help it if our malls don't look nice on the outside because redevelopment screwed Japantown and forced many people to move somewhere else, such as the Richmond District, and even the East Bay. If you have ever patronized Japantown in any way, you should not give any disrespect to this community.

Understand this, while only about 10% of Japanese Americans still live in Japantown, many of us do come back when we can to patronize restaurants, help out the community organizations, and meet friends.

Let me say that one more time, a lot of us don't live in Japantown, but we still love it and support it. Come meet a bunch of my friends who have volunteered for this community for OVER 40 YEARS. Why not visit Kimochi, the non-profit organization still going strong, and talk to the hard working volunteers that keep the organization moving with great programs like their lunch program.

Although my late grandmother passed away, she is considered the "Godmother of Japantown" for her leadership to fight for redress for all Japanese Americans interned in the camps during WWII, and her endless volunteering to her community; from preparing meals to serve the elderly every single day to fundraising over a million dollars to build a senior care live-in facility. And she also lived on Bush and Laguna.

You know what, I don't mind that the festival sold Vietnamese food. We have a social responsibility to help out others as well. During my tenure as the leader of the Save Japantown movement in 2006, I said to the Filipino American community that we could use their support because we all have a responsibility to help struggling communities. Japanese Americans were out there supporting the protests at the International Hotel and we needed their support as well. That message alone brought in 3,000 petition signatures in just 24 hours.

That's the spirit of Japantown for you. We are a proud community.

--Aaron "Akit" Kitashima
Owner and Blogger of "Akit's Complaint Department"

This is all I have to say for now. If you get a chance, subscribe to my RSS feed or sign-up for e-mail updates on Akit.Org and on the upper left side of the page for the subscription links.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Updates: Japantown Festivals and Muni Transfer Coupons

Here are some new updates to past postings on Akit's Complaint Department.

First of all, Japantown being threatened by a condo association and developer:
  • I'm generating a lot of heat (the good kind) by spreading the word around where I can. I've received a few e-mails from community leaders and members of the public, and received wide exposure through Yelp's "Talk" pages (click here to view).
  • It is becoming a consensus around the Yelp area that although the festivals may be the same, the food might not be the world's best (although I argue that it is good food for a good cause (the J-town community organizations)), it is an annual tradition to hold two festivals in Japantown. There is also the argument going around about the letters written by the president and developer of 1600 Webster saying that they went a little too far in their letter. In my opinion, I think they are trying to bully an event that started 35 years ago to bring the community together, and now they want to rip us apart. It is much more respectful to write a kinder letter while still making your requests (not demands), and not going off topic about the look of our malls, the food, the gifts, etc.

As for Muni, or what I like to call it, "the dumbest system on earth:"
Then on the ride back, it was the start of the 9th inning and the Dodgers was whipping our butts bad, and one metro train just left, and about 200 people were on the platform for the next train. The train did not arrive for about 10 to 15 minutes after the most recent train left, and people were leaving the game and waiting for the next vehicle. The wait got so long, that I confronted a Muni official who was on the track level (I was on the platform) arguing that it should not take like 15 minutes for a train to come by and pickup people from a GIANTS GAME. Then the guy wanted to confront me, demanding me to show my face. I sure did show my face in bravery showing that I don't take shit from Muni and their lousy officials. The guy told me to go take a cab, it was just down the block. I demanded his employee ID number when I threatened to call SF's 311, and the guy never gave it to me, and walked away. OOOOH... you don't walk away from me. I yelled at him that he was a disgrace to being a government employee.

Do you ever wonder? If a Muni operator causes an accident, injuries, or even kills someone, the chances are good that their union will keep them on the job. Hey Muni union, you better remember that the local taxpayers RULE YOU and we can find a way to make you wipe your own ass instead of the taxpayers doing that right now. And we have the basic right to treat you like shit if you treat us like shit.

I've thrown Muni to a brand new low when I caught them breaking a promise and capturing it on video. Now, this happens and I should have caught it on video too. Damn, I had my camera on me.

Lastly, there was also a fistfight on the Muni metro platform at Embarcadero. Some lady on the same train I was on, accused a guy behind her of hitting her (or maybe just an accidental shove), then they exit the train. I'm walking to the opposite escallator when I hear screaming and I turn around and say "holy shit" and see two people fighting each other. They go up past the fare gates, and I'm talking to the booth lady to get the cops. So BART police arrive, turns out that they think that the fight happened on the BART platform and stops all the trains going in and out, delaying everyone for at least five to ten minutes when the damn incident happened on Muni's platform and the confrontation continued on the faregate platform!

Dang, what a day.

Correction: "Muni to BART" transfer ticket, not "BART to Muni"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Japantown Festivals Threatened

I've received word that San Francisco's Japantown was threatened by an angry letter from the President of the Association and Developer of the 1600 Webster Building, former site of the Japantown Bowl.

As many of you have known, the Japantown Bowl was sold to a development company, the old building was abandoned and stayed up for a year, and was eventually torn down and built into very expensive condos and two business spaces. The community did not want condos and even offered their own funds to purchase and preserve the alley. The community was also offended with Starbucks moving into the large business space because it would hurt the local businesses (such as Cafe Hana), and was able to have the company pull out of its quest to open an establishment.

Today, the condo association President and the Developer of the 1600 Webster condo development threatened the Japantown community by arguing that the community festivals (Cherry Blossom and Nihonmachi Street Fair) saying that we have too many festivals that impact them. They claim that we have " schlocky souvenirs, mediocre food stands..." Oh give me a break, yeah we sell souvenirs, but it's just part of our community, and those food stands are NON-PROFIT COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS TRYING TO MAKE SOME MONEY (how can you hate on them?) and it is GREAT FOOD (people come back every year to eat it again).

I need to make myself clear on this: I am only talking about the Cherry Blossom Festival and the Nihonmachi Street Fair, but not the Asian Heritage Festival. If you have a problem with the Asian Heritage Festival, talk to Mayor Newsom and AsianWeek. The Asian Heritage festival is not have any official relation to Japantown's community and its people because this festival is organized around going to different neighborhoods every year and hosting it there.

Then they argue that the food booths create a mess in the neighborhood. To be honest with you, yes, we do make somewhat of a mess, but we clean-up the mess after the event is over. Both Cherry Blossom and Nihonmachi have volunteers that go around the food areas to change garbage bags, and sweep the streets. After cleaning up the booths, a more thorough cleaning is done by the city and the event organizers, especially the grease issues. One thing I wonder about is, why do they (the condo association) feel like they need to pay out of their own pockets to sweep the sidewalks and take care of the trees after the festival? If we use the area for the festival, it is our job to clean-up the mess that people leave.

We have never been threatened or received such a complaint like this EVER in the history of this neighborhood. The people who organize this event has BENT OVER BACKWARDS for the condo people by letting them have access to their underground garage during festival days, even if there is a huge mob of people on the closed street for the food fair, and we have put fencing around the building to keep people from perching or encroaching on their property. We have other people who live directly in the path of our festivals and they have never complained, not once, not even a peep. And all they do is move their car out of their garage and park it somewhere nearby.

If the association president is reading this, please tell us about the vote? How many were absent? How many voted in support of writing this letter to the community, and who voted against it?

And I've been a hard worker at the festival for over ten years, and my father and "uncles" (Hawaiian term for family friends) have done this for OVER 30 YEARS. If the association president and the development manager have the guts, come meet us, talk to us, and explain your concerns to us. We want to see you make your argument in front of the people who make this community the way it is today, the hard working volunteers who get paid nothing to do something to support their community, and its fine organizations.

Don't go on the chicken route of just writing a letter.

All of you readers should come on out and support our community festival. It is this Saturday and Sunday, August 9-10 from 10AM to 6PM with live music, food, and arts & crafts (some of them are handmade by seniors). A petition will be passed around the area and we can use your support by signing it and enjoying our festivities for this 35th year anniversary of the festival.

Below are excerpts from e-mails from the President and the Developer of the 1600 Webster Street Condo’s, the former site of the Japantown Bowl to the Nihonmachi Street Fair Committee

To Nihonmachi Street Fair Committee

As you are aware, this Association (along with other members of this neighborhood) must tolerate what seems to be an endless use of Post and Webster Streets for a series of look-alike street fairs with the same purveyors of schlocky souvenirs, mediocre food stands and exhibitors who have absolutely no relationship to the community. There is no other neighborhood which is asked to put up with these sorts of disruptions, and that, of course, doesn't include the disruption presented by the Fillmore Street Fair which is only one block away.

Thus, we find it astonishing that the Fair organizers would propose an event that would leave the neighborhood in worse condition than you found it and then impose your clean-up costs on this Association and other property owners. The streets and sidewalks of this neighborhood are usually filthy, especially those that surround that appalling mall, and 1600 Webster already devotes part of its yearly budget to the maintenance of its sidewalks and street trees from which this neighborhood receives a direct benefit.

We want to make it very clear to you that if the neighborhood sidewalks are not cleaned in an adequate fashion this year, this Association will file a protest with the City when you seek a permit for next year's street fair.

David H. Zisser

President, 1600 Webster Street Homeowners' Association


This is real simple. You want to put on an event; you take responsibility. In this instance, you make a mess, you clean it up. You don't get the benefits (proceeds), without the liabilities (expenses). If your event doesn't make money, you should rethink it's usefulness. In any event, if we have to clean up afterwards, we will not only oppose the event next year we will look to small claims court to reimburse us for clean up costs. We don't need a bunch of emailing back and forth on this. It is not a negotiation.

John McInerney

Developer 1600 Webster Street


Dear Mr. Zisser,

Thank you for your email regarding the upcoming Nihonmachi Street Fair.

After thoroughly reading your reply I am very troubled by the response you presented.

The Nihonmachi Street Fair (NSF) like the many other community events held in and around Japantown has always worked with our neighbors both residential, community organizations and businesses to make sure that we keep our streets clean and that the event is a successful one especially for the many non profit organizations that participate.

We have never received any negative comments like this and it puts a damper on what we hope will attract many visitors to the area. The Nihonmachi Street Fair has always done our best to keep the streets of Japantown pristine after the event closes each day. Our committee knows how important it is to not only represent the NSF in a positive manner, but that our actions also reflect our organization and more importantly our community.

Due to very limited funds this year we are unable to spend the funds to hire the City to steam clean the sidewalk area directly in front of the 1600 Webster condo. The Food Fest area will be contained on Post Street. Other than having our volunteers sweep the streets during and after the event, as well as the Department of Public Works coming by to sweep the entire Fair areas, we should be fine. Of course if any of the streets that we use is soiled and is an eye sore we do go out there and physically scrub the area.

Nihonmachi Street Fair Response