Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis plans to introduce a motion at Tuesday’s board meeting asking that the county ban major music festivals on county property pending an investigation into the weekend deaths of two women at the HARD Summer music festival at the Pomona fairgrounds.
The women are believed to have died from drug overdoses.
“I am deeply troubled by the fact that this is the third such death to happen in my district in the last year and a half,” Solis said.
A 19-year-old woman died last year after attending the same music festival in Whittier Narrows, which is also in Solis’ district.
“No one — no one should have to lose their life while attending a public concert,” Solis said.
She said she will introduce a motion with Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich proposing a prohibition on “these kinds of events on county-owned land until we conduct a full investigation into this matter.”
County attorneys said they are examining whether event organizers followed contractual terms to ensure the safety of attendees, and said they are aware of another rave, “HARD Presents … A Night at Fairplex,” that is scheduled for Sept. 10.
“We believe there is another event similar to this one scheduled at the Fairplex in September,” County Attorney Mary Wickham said. “That’s a fact that matters to us and we will be operating on a time table to address those issues prior to that date.”
One of the two women who died in this past weekend’s concert was identified today as 18-year-old Tracy Nguyen of West Covina. The name of the other one, a 19-year-old woman from Camarillo, was being withheld pending family notification. Autopsies on both women were pending, according to the coroner’s office.
The two deaths have sparked new debate about whether authorities can do more to reduce drug-related problems at raves. There are now fewer raves in Los Angeles after a series of drug-related problems at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, most notably at the Electric Daisy Carnival, which has since moved to Las Vegas. Similar events, however, are still held outside the city and draw big crowds.
The city, however, will host a two-day music festival Aug. 22-23 headlined by Frank Ocean and Morrissey. The FYF Fest will feature dozens of bands at Exposition Park and Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
Cynthia Harding, interim director of the county Department of Public Health, said the county in 2010 issued a set of recommendations to help concert organizers curb drug-related safety issues at raves and similar concerts.
These recommendations included ensuring “adequate access pathways” for emergency responders, “ample water stations,” screening for drugs at concert entrances and “sufficient security.”
Harding said the recommendations also included instituting “a zero- tolerance drug policy at these events.”
The county’s attorneys said they are not sure if the organizers for this weekend’s event were contractually obligated to follow such policies.
“One would assume we would be able to contractually hold them to follow our policies, but we’re gathering the facts on that, to see exactly what was done,” Wickham said.
Wickham also said the county “can be liable in these situations.”
“We have to look at who owns the land, who owns the facility, things like that,” she said.
Promoters of the HARD Summer festival issued a statement saying security officers, the Pomona Police Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department all “responded immediately” to the women on Saturday.
“Unfortunately, both patrons have passed away. The cause of death is still under investigation. We extend our deepest sympathies to their families and friends,” promoters said.
Nguyen and the other young woman were found unresponsive Saturday at the Fairplex in Pomona, which is managed by the nonprofit Los Angeles County Fair Association on land mostly owned by Los Angeles County government.
Hard Events is owned by Live Nation, which declined to respond to Solis’ planned motion.
Live Nation also owns Insomniac Events, which organizes the Electric Daisy Carnival.
Solis and Antonovich said Sunday they planned to ask for a full probe to see if the event was properly managed to ensure the safety of patrons, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The annual two-day HARD Summer musical festival has grown in recent years. Last year, attendance was 40,000 people per day but it grew this year to 65,000 a day, The Times reported. It is considered the biggest music festival of its kind in Los Angeles County.
— Staff and wire reports