Wet Electric Huntington Beach beach party gets OK from judge

September 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Wet Electric beach party and music festival is scheduled this weekend in Huntington Beach, but city officials mindful of a riot there earlier this summer are hoping it can be moved or postponed. The event is proceeding as planned for now, but that could change.

In a Santa Ana courtroom, the city of Huntington Beach takes on the state, and an event promoter, to try to stop a huge beach party planned for this Saturday.

"It's the volume of the event," said Huntington Beach City Attorney Jennifer McGrath. "It's not something that we're accustomed to, it's not something we've seen before."

The party, called Wet Electric, is expected to draw several thousand adults to Huntington State Beach.

"It's just about a fun day on the beach," said Premiere Media Group President Steve Thatcher, the event organizer. "It's a music festival."

"The genuine concern is what they're going to do when they leave," said McGrath. "They're going to be at an event where alcohol is freely served between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m."

The city asked a judge to have it canceled, alleging the company's permit violates the city's zoning for temporary use. But the state, which owns the land, approved the event. The promoter is paying the state $90,000 to rent part of the beach.

"State parks is sovereign state land, and we have management authority and jurisdiction over that land," said Brian Ketterer, California State Parks Orange Coast District superintendent.

The judge agreed, and denied the city's request.

Thatcher says he may have been unfairly targeted because of the riot in Huntington Beach in July following the U.S. Open of Surfing.

"This event has been in the planning process for months and months, and we never got any notice that there were any issues until after the riot broke out at the U.S. Open," said Thatcher.

City officials insist they're concerned about people under people under the influence causing problems.

The organizer says there will be more than 90 private security guards in addition to as many as 30 state police officers.

The organizer says Wet Electric is open only to those 21 and older with a ticket. General admission costs $75. Police say they plan to watch closely for drunk drivers.


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