Report Recommends Raves Should Continue at Coliseum

The panel that oversees Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum voted Friday to indefinitely extend a moratorium on rave-type events at the facility, but three similar events that have already been scheduled at the neighboring Sports Arena will go on as planned.

The moratorium was implemented in response to the death of a 15-year-old girl who apparently overdosed on Ecstasy at the Electric Daisy Carnival last month.

But while agreeing to forego booking any more raves, the Coliseum Commission agreed to review recommendations aimed at making such events safer, an indication that the moratorium will eventually be lifted.

Commission President Barry Sanders said that while the moratorium on raves is in effect, officials will "see if we can't fashion the gold standard for electronic music concerts."

"This facility is here for the safe enjoyment of everyone, but we have no tolerance for drugs or violence or criminal conduct," he said. "We are responsible for the safety of the people that come."

City Councilman Bernard Parks, a member of the commission, noted that a small percentage of any large crowd can generally be expected to cause trouble.

"The issue we have to realize is, there are no perfect events," Parks said.

In a 15-page report to the panel, the law firm of Miller Barondess made 11 recommendations for improving safety at raves, including banning anyone under 18 years old, enforcing drug laws and having more roving medical personnel and vendors with water.

"Based on our initial analysis, we believe the Coliseum does and can continue to employ the nation's best practices regarding health and safety in connection with electronic music festivals," the report states.

The report notes that since 1998, the Coliseum and Sports Arena have hosted 37 electronic music festivals for more than 1 million people.

Sasha Rodriguez, 15, stopped breathing June 27 while attending the two-day, 14th annual Electric Daisy Carnival at the Coliseum. She was taken off life support at a hospital two days later. Sasha is believed to have taken the illegal drug Ecstasy, but autopsy results were being withheld pending the completion of toxicology tests.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky quickly called for a moratorium on future raves at the stadium. Sanders concurred and administratively imposed a moratorium pending Friday's meeting.

Yaroslavsky said Friday the use of Ecstasy at rave events "is almost 100 percent of the problem."

Just prior to the meeting, an attorney for the family of Sasha Rodriguez issued a statement urging the commission and concert promoters to protect children.

"Sasha Rodriguez was 15 years old when she died on June 29," attorney Paul Kiesel said. "Sasha's mom, Grace, and her father, Leonard, had no idea she was going to the Electric Daisy Carnival. In fact, Sasha knew she didn't have permission to go. Tragically she went. More tragically she got in. Despite the promoter's policy of excluding any child under the age of 16, Sasha was admitted.

"The Rodriguez family and I know this entire community is committed to ensuring something like this never happens again," he said. "The promoters, Insomniac Productions, have reached out to the family, through their counsel, and pledged to make any and all changes necessary to protect children in the future.

"We look forward to working with them and the commission to put our children's health and safety ahead of profits."

The Electric Daisy event posed a host of problems for the 87-year-old facility. Total attendance was said to reach 185,000, including a Saturday sell-out of 100,000 people.

Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics handled 226 medical calls and took 114 people to hospitals during the course of the event. Drug overdoses and drunkenness were primary problems, a spokesman said.

Video taken at the festival showed crowds of people storming fences to avoid the entry fee. Some people who attended the event also reported that workers at the gates were not checking the ages of attendees, despite attendance being restricted to people at least 16 years old.

Insomniac, the promoters of the event, issued a statement saying the recommendations that will be reviewed by the commission "along with the safety protocols we are establishing ... will set the standard for the nation."

"I personally look forward to continuing to work with the Coliseum Commission, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department for many years to come," said Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella.

Commission officials said three previously planned rave-type events will go on as scheduled at the Sports Arena on Aug. 21, Oct. 23 and New Year's Eve.

As a result of the Electric Daisy event, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted July 6 to create a multi-agency task force to investigate health and safety issues regarding rave-style events at public venues.

Under the proposal by Yaroslavsky and Supervisor Don Knabe, the task force will include members from city governments, law enforcement agencies, hospitals, the county Emergency Medical Services and Public Health commissions and community health providers to "identify the extent of public health concerns associated with rave parties."

In the wake of the uproar over the event, another rave -- the annual Hard L.A. concert, originally set for Saturday at downtown's Los Angeles State Historic Park -- has been postponed until Aug. 7.

At Friday's meeting, Debbie Macaluso said her daughter, 19-year-old Aisha Armer, spent six months in intensive care after an Ecstasy overdose at the 2009 Electric Daisy Carnival.

She said the commission should ban raves at the Coliseum.

"I just think it's a safety issue," she said. "I just think it's all about the money."

Armer added that electronic music festivals "need to be stopped."

"No matter what containment goes into effect, kids will do what they want to do," Armer said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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