On the heels of a riot in downtown Huntington Beach earlier this summer, city officials are trying to halt an oceanfront rave from being staged later this month.
The Wet Electric is scheduled for Sept. 14 at Huntington Beach State Beach, an event that promoters say will feature almost two dozen well-known deejays, giant water slides, ziplines, cabanas, day beds and bars.
But on Tuesday, City Council members authorized the city attorney to file suit to halt the daytime event. The rave is being promoted by Premiere Media Group, the state of California and the nonprofit Giving It Back To Kids.
"It doesn't surprise me," said PMG President Steve Thacher, who said he hadn't received notice of the lawsuit as of Wednesday. "They've been pretty irrational up until this point, so I wouldn't expect anything else to change."
Kevin Pearsall, a peace officer with the California State Parks who has been involved in the planning of the event, said he was shocked to find out that the city is trying to halt the rave. He said the promoter and state have done everything possible to ensure the safety of those in and around the area.
"All safety precautions and permits are in process," he said. "Everything to make sure that everybody is content and that the event is as safe and successful as possible has been put into play or is currently being put into play."
In August, City Atty. Jennifer McGrath sent Thacher a letter requesting that the promoter cancel the event because the company's permit did not abide by the city's zoning and subdivision ordinance regarding temporary use and land use control.
But Pearsall said the event is taking place on the state beach, not city property.
"Her letter is completely incorrect," he said. “We're using state resources and not using the city resources, and we have assured them that we will not."
Pearsall said he and the promoters have met with the city many times to "put them at ease" and sees no purpose in the pending lawsuit.
"The state attorneys have contacted the city attorney and have expressed their views on it, and everybody's behind this thing," Thacher said. "We're in the 11th hour."
The Surfrider Foundation, a former supporter of the event, has not been involved with the rave since it was held in Irvine in 2011, Huntington Beach chapter president Tony Soriano said.
Soriano contacted PMG about a month before the U.S. Open of Surfing and told the promoter that Surfrider would not be involved or associated with the event.
"I wanted to get our name away from this whole thing because it's not in our best interest," he said. "We're out of it."
The Wet Electric has a rave scheduled next month at a Tempe, Ariz., water park.
Carpio writes for Times Community News.