Future of Treasure Island Music Festival Uncertain After Cease-and-Desist

Middle Harbor Shoreline Park was the venue for Treasure Island Music Festival in 2018. (Estefany Gonzalez/KQED)

The fate of Treasure Island Music Festival and other events slated at West Oakland's Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is up in the air after the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) sent a cease-and-desist order to the Port of Oakland, according to the BCDC's enforcement committee.

The 40-acre park with views of the San Francisco skyline has become a popular destination for large-scale gatherings in recent years. It's part of the Port of Oakland, and is overseen by the BCDC. Environmental watchdog groups say that festivals at the park, some of which attract tens of thousands of attendees, have noticeably harmed its terrain.

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"Even a month after [Treasure Island Music Festival], you could still see the damage that was done to the park's landscape and sprinkler system," Save the Bay Executive Director David Lewis told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Furthermore, the Port of Oakland violated its agreement to obtain permission from the BCDC before closing the park for paid events, often turning in its plans late or neglecting to submit them altogether. Advocates say that these closures to the general public deprive local residents of access to one of the neighborhood's few parks.

"BCDC staff has communicated the issue over the years with the Port," read the BCDC's enforcement committee meeting minutes from July 11. "Nevertheless, these special events continue to occur without BCDC approval."

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It's not the first time environmentalists have raised red flags about festivals at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. In addition to Treasure Island, which Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment held there for the first time in 2018, the park hosted last year's rap festival Blurry Vision and this year's electronic music-focused Second Sky Festival, both presented by promotions giant Goldenvoice. Last year, KQED first reported that environmentalists were concerned events like these could damage the park's numerous bird habitats.

"At all of our events, we're mindful that the park is adjacent to a sensitive natural habitat," Port director Michael Zampha told KQED in October 2018. "After all, we helped create the habitat."

The Port of Oakland's stated mission is to increase "habitat benefits for aquatic birds," and to "identify any conflicts between public access and habitat development," according to a 2001 report. Yet it raises up to $100,000 a year in permit fees from festivals. In addition to Treasure Island, the 2019 edition of which hasn't been formally announced, the All Day I Dream Festival is slated for late September.

This story has been updated.

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