Community Voices
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This map shows the results from a concert noise survey sent out by the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council shortly after the Dreamstate Harbor event. Red indicates those who were negatively affected by the sounds from the concert, yellow means they heard it but were indifferent, and green means they were not affected by the concert music at all. Click to enlarge. (photo: Coastal San Pedro NC survey)

Dreamstate Harbor, an electronic music event, took place June 11 and 12 in San Pedro at Berth 46, also known as the Outer Harbor. Across the water from Cabrillo Beach, this is where you will sometimes see some of the larger cruise ships, many motocross events, various music shows, the Lane Victory, and a tall ship or two. I love all kinds of music and have a wide variety of tastes, from Bocelli to Zepplin, Dolly Parton to Tool, and I love any music festival that exposes me to something new. I can typically find something I like in almost any venue or performance. I’m even a fan of electronic dance music (EDM), including both house and breaks. My EDM friends are going to stop here to argue. For those who don’t know anything about EDM, please keep reading.

Most concerts or festivals are loud. EDM festivals are often the loudest. Hearing, feeling, and taking in the music in a live setting is kind of the point. EDM often gets into trouble with the neighbors because the low notes or bass can carry for a mile over water, so much farther than the higher notes. So, from a distance, one often only hears the repetitive bass seem to go on forever without much variation, which is as pleasant as construction starting next to your bedroom at seven in the morning. 

I decided to buy tickets for this event because I knew some folks considered this a stress test for the new amphitheater being proposed on the waterfront as part of West Harbor. Actually, the amphitheater site is more than a mile away, has more physical barriers between it and our homes, and it’s angled better towards Terminal Island. Still, it makes sense most people would make the comparison.

I bought overly expensive VIP tickets. Parking was simple. The venue was well laid out and professional. We dressed comfortably, ready to dance. There was no line at the bar, and the weather was warm with a gentle breeze, creating the perfect setting. The people were nice. I wasn’t the oldest one there, and the young folks seemed to be having a good time without getting sloppy. 

The music started, and I immediately remembered how much I hated progressive trance EDM. 

I spent the rest of the day focused on the noise level, talking to the Port Police and L.A. Fire Fighters and getting a feel for how well the crowd was enjoying itself. There was practically no sound leakage at street level, not even bass. You couldn’t even hear it from the parking lot. While the kids were enjoying themselves, you didn’t see many instances of intoxication, and the medical tent was mostly empty without the drug and alcohol issues everyone expects from a rave. This seemed tame and uneventful.

The next day, I saw all the Facebook activity. Most were surprisingly chill about the noise they could hear from home, while others had legitimate concerns. People have the right to peace and quiet, and Saturday night was a problem. Sunday night, the concert promoter deployed sound technicians to respond to complaints around San Pedro. Adjustments were made, and the sound was mitigated for most of our residents. A poll sent out by one of the neighborhood councils was meant to create a groundswell of complaints, but they found many of the respondents appreciated the adjustments and were impressed by the difference. It was also interesting to see the opinion differences from homes next to each other.

If my EarPods can have noise canceling technology, it’s no surprise that million-dollar sound equipment at the port can do the same. Was everyone happy? No. Will there be an adjustment period once the amphitheater is built? Probably. But the fact that the music was louder on the festival grounds and quieter around town seemed like a great result on Sunday. The additional fact that it only took me seven minutes to get home when the event ended means my wife may forgive me for paying so much for tickets in the future once Nederlander brings talent with a much wider appeal. Visit nederlanderconcerts.com to see a sample of shows that could come to San Pedro in the future. spt

Lee Williams

Lee Williams leads the Williams Group at Keller Williams Realty and is a member of the Board of Directors for the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and the Boys and Girls Club for L.A. Harbor.

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