Thursday April 17, 2014 at 9:00am, 50-75 people gathered in the San Bernardino Land Use Service Department building, Planning Division. The mission: ‘SAVE THE SUMMER CONCERTS’ and secure a C.U.P. (Condition Use Permit).
Lake Arrowhead has a population of 12,424, an elevation of 5,108ft, lake size is 782 acre’s, is home to 50 shops and 12 restaurants. The Lake Arrowhead Village has provided musical entertainment for 89 years, beginning in 1925. For decades residents and visitors alike have become accustomed to the summertime event that draws their friends and families back year after year. As of now the Village hosts 17 weekends of FREE concerts on Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Concerts begin from early May and end on Labor Day weekend. These are then followed by 5 weeks of Oktoberfest festivities on Saturday’s and Sunday’s from 1:00 to 5:00pm, beginning in mid-September and ending late October. Live music is played at both events. In fact, Lake Arrowhead has managed to get some of the top cover bands to play on their ‘Center Stage’, paid in part by the Lake Arrowhead Village Merchants.
What led the Lake Arrowhead Village before the Planning Division Counsel?
NOISE. It was stressed that this hearing was not to be based on economic impacts, but solely on “environmental pollution”. In the music world there is a logarithmic unit called a Decibel: The decibel is a logarithmic unit used to express the ratio between two values of a physical quantity, often power or intensity. One of these quantities is often a reference value, and in this case the decibel can be used to express the absolute level of the physical quantity (Sourced on Wikipedia). This Decibel according to San Bernardino County has a high limit enforcement code for residential areas of 55 db’s from 7am -10pm, and 45 db’s from 10pm-7am.
In the past, the village concerts exceeded those county standards and music could be heard from across the bay. At times music could be heard throughout Arrowhead Woods due in part to the extreme mountain topography, carrying sound throughout the valleys. Sound waves that traveled furthest came from drum bass and high frequency pitches such as an electric guitar. In 2012 and in previous years, the concerts went until 9:30pm and would occasionally have encores until 10pm. Not many residents complained during this time, but a few did surface and gained momentum after a formal complaint had been filed by one opposing party.
How did this process begin?
In 2012 the Lake Arrowhead Village received a complaint from an opposing party. The complaint was regarding noise coming from the Lake Arrowhead Village Concerts which they perceived to be noise pollution. The opposing party also stated that their requests were not taken seriously by Lake Arrowhead Village management and so decided to take the issue to county courts. In court they argued Lake Arrowhead was supposed to be a place of serenity and that they could not sit outside or enjoy the quiet sounds of mountain environment at night. They also insisted that the concert noise disrupted their sleep and that of their children.
Where did this leave the Lake Arrowhead Village?
To save the concerts and obtain a permit, the village realized a need to personally make efforts in lowering sound levels. In 2013, village management worked diligently to see that sound db’s were within county limits. Multiple tests were employed throughout the concert season to insure all areas were within db compliance. Test readings were taken at multiple locations around the lake, concerts rescheduled to end at 8:30 sharp (a full 1.5 hours earlier than allowed), with no encores and no after concert music. Efforts were made to lower the volume and sound travel by re-arranging speakers and lowering bass volumes. After these changes were put in place and the new db measurements taken, all but one area was in compliance. That one area will now have acoustic blankets draped in-between two buildings preventing sound waves from reaching nearby condos.
Where is the Lake Arrowhead Village today?
Currently we are 2 weeks away from our first concert on May 9th. Lake Arrowhead Village was on a T.U.P. (Temporary Use Permit). The T.U.P. was a non-permanent permit that required review each year allowing an opportunity for denial of the permit, thus canceling the entire concert series. This yearly review was very expensive, very time consuming and very exhausting. Village Manager, Vicky Goodlick, grabbed this challenge by the reins and worked very hard with a team of specialists to secure a permanent permit. This C.U.P permit would help insure that concerts continue for years to come and provide entertainment for future music lovers.
The final conclusion:
As proven, the village is now in compliance with the proper db’s and they will continue to make every effort to lower the db’s even further. They have looked into hanging speakers higher inside the tent to face the music down into the crowd, placing a drum shield in front of the drum sets to help shelter bass, adding a special “zone fill” speaker system that directs sound at an opposing speaker which would in turn cancel sound wave travel, and also hang more acoustic blankets around the village shops corridor. A key speaker noted they may even implement special warning lights that activate when db limits get to high, allowing sound board operators to make adjustments. The village will continually run tests and check db’s to prevent further complaints.
At Thursday’s hearing 19 people spoke in front of the counsel to express their feelings regarding the concerts. Three against the current concert conditions and the others for it. The opposing continued their complaint of noise pollution and sleep deprivation while commenting to those in favor, “You did not need to bring silly signs that say ‘save the concerts’, because we NEVER intended to end the concerts,” and “It was always about environmental impact”, reiterating that the complaint was that they cannot sit on their patio and enjoy the sounds of the mountain due to the concert noise. Many groans and snickers erupted from the side of the room I was sitting on, but I feel everyone kept it together very well and respected the counsel. Those in favor were able to speak about legitimate noise reduction, and the effect canceling the concerts would have on our economy. Although economics was not the intended focus, it was very obvious the large economic impact a cancellation would incur.
The permanent permit and how Lake Arrowhead received their C.U.P.
The counsel sat very patiently and listened to all comments and concerns that were presented. After all speakers had spoken the counsel proceeded with their questions. Audrey Matthews inquired if the db’s were in compliance; Answer: Yes. She then proceeded with a fun little story about how she attends concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. Mrs. Mathews mentioned that those concerts go until 10pm and that all the residents who live on Mulholland Drive sit on their front porches and enjoy a free concert while she has paid $50. She then motioned to move forward. Randy Coleman stated, “I take my family up to Lake Arrowhead every year and enjoy the summer concerts along with a stay at the lake Arrowhead Resort”. He also stated,”I think 8:30 is to early to end the concerts, I think it should go till 9!” There were cheers from the seats and lots of applause. Ray Allard inquired, “So, are they in county compliance?”; Answer: Yes. He continued, “And there are still efforts being made to lower the db’s further?”; Answer: Yes. “And they have made their own efforts to further the noise reduction without county request?” Answer: Yes. “Then WHY ARE WE HERE?!” The room burst with excitement. He proceeded to say, “Heck, I feel like giving them one extra decibel if they want one!”
Before I knew it, all counsel members had said, “Aye”, the C.U.P. was awarded and the hearing was ajurned. The cheers from the crowd were enough for the opposing party to realize they had been defeated. The day ended with a friendly hug from the opposing party to Vicky Goodlick.
LONG LIVE THE LAKE ARROWHEAD CONCERTS!