SF Supervisors Approve Plan for New Concert Series in Golden Gate Park

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Fans pose under the iconic windmill arch during day two of the Outside Lands Music Festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on August 10, 2019.
Fans pose under the iconic windmill arch during day two of the Outside Lands Music Festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on August 10, 2019. (Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Update, 3 p.m. Tuesday: By a vote of 10–1, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday afternoon approved a proposal to bring more concerts to Golden Gate Park. The lone dissenter was Connie Chan, who cited concerns that the events would cause disruptions in the Richmond District where her constituents live.

Original story, 7:30 a.m. Tuesday
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors is set to vote on a proposal Tuesday that would bring more concerts to Golden Gate Park the weekend after Outside Lands in addition to three free concerts scattered throughout the city.

The concerts would be organized by Berkeley-based promoter Another Planet Entertainment, the company that also produces the Outside Lands music festival every August, and would take place at the same location as Outside Lands.

Under the proposal, Another Planet would pay the city of San Francisco up to $1.4 million for a two-day event, or $2.1 million for a three-day event, annually, during the duration of the permit.

Besides the extra weekend of entertainment slated for Golden Gate Park, Another Planet has also committed to staging three free concerts in downtown San Francisco on the same summer weekend if the city approves the permit. One event would take place at Civic Center Plaza, followed by concerts at Union Square and the Embarcadero Plaza.


The proposal has the support of Mayor London Breed and other city officials. The Budget and Finance Committee unanimously voted last week to forward the proposal to the full board for a vote after a hearing that was dominated by supporters.

Sarah Dennis Phillips, executive director of the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, said the downtown concerts would draw more people to an area that has experienced less foot traffic.

“They are an absolute fulfillment to the mayor’s roadmap to San Francisco’s future that she put out just as COVID was ending,” Phillips said. “One of the key strategies in that roadmap was to transform downtown into a leading arts, culture and nightlife destination, so these concerts fit exactly within the strategies the mayor put forward to try to revitalize downtown.”

Some San Francisco residents, however, are concerned about the noise that Outside Lands brings to their neighborhoods and said they dread another round of concerts.

“I live two miles away and it is so loud that I can’t think. I can’t work. I can’t even talk on the phone,” said Andrew Solow, who lives in the Inner Sunset neighborhood. “What they are doing is bad for people and it’s illegal.”

Solow said that he chose to leave San Francisco and live in a hotel during Outside Lands because he had detected noise levels of 70 decibels at his home during the festival.

Solow and resident Stephen Somerstein filed an unsuccessful appeal to the San Francisco Planning Department in 2019 when the city extended the permit for Outside Lands for another 10 years. Solow said he spent $25,000 in legal fees and many hours looking at the legality of the festival’s noise levels.

Despite these concerns, city departments argue these concerts will bring citywide benefits to San Franciscans.

A spokesperson for San Francisco Recreation and Parks, Tamara Aparton, said they came up with the plan for more concerts with Another Planet in response to a projected city budget deficit of $780 million over the next two years. Aparton said the extra funds are necessary to avoid cuts in park maintenance, classes and recreation programs.

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She added that the new concerts would have the same support system for neighbors and the same infrastructure for attendees as Outside Lands, despite having smaller headliners. Attendance will be a third of the size of Outside Lands, which has a permit for 75,000 attendees per day during its duration.

One of those support systems for neighbors is a community hotline that will respond in real-time to complaints.

Daniel Montes, a Rec and Parks spokesperson, confirmed to KQED via email that there are no limits for noise levels in the contract that Another Planet has with the city. KQED reached out to Another Planet for a request for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.

Moreover, the festival has never been held to an environmental study because state law considers it a temporary event.

For Inner Richmond resident Mark Ernest Pothier, the hotline is not enough.

“There’s just no way you can have a concert on that scale comfortably in a densely populated neighborhood. One of the most densely populated places west of Chicago,” Pothier said.

KQED’s Giuliana Salomone contributed reporting.