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Court Hears Amphitheater Noise Case

Attorneys for the Orange County Fairgrounds asked a Superior Court judge Tuesday to revoke sound regulations governing the Pacific Amphitheatre.

In legal filings and during oral arguments, the lawyers contended that the noise rules were impossible to follow during concerts and other events, rendering the theater useless, said Jill Lloyd, spokeswoman for the fairgrounds.

Attorneys representing residents argued that the 1993 “sound covenant” should remain in place or be strengthened to protect peace and quiet in the Mesa del Mar section of Costa Mesa. Residents in the neighborhood complained of noise from the amphitheater for 10 years before winning the sound accord in a previous lawsuit. The amphitheater has been closed since 1995.

Attorney Richard Spix said the fairgrounds earned back what it paid for the amphitheater in a June court settlement over the 1993 sale of the amphitheater and should not be allowed to use the venue for money-making events.

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In the settlement, the Nederlander Organization agreed to pay the fairgrounds $16 million and allow it to keep the outdoor theater.

“They were compensated for the loss of the Pacific Amphitheater, and now they don’t want to lose it,” he said.

Lloyd said the fairgrounds has lost far more than the settlement amount on the loan, interest, attorneys’ fees and revenue from canceled concerts.

“We’ll never recover the money we spent on the principal and interest,” she said.

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Judge Robert E. Thomas will research the matter and issue a written opinion on the arguments, possibly in the next two weeks.

The arguments mostly center on decibel levels. Spix and his clients want to keep the regulations in place, which allow a maximum of 92 decibels (the sound of a diesel truck in motion) at the theater’s mixing board and 86 decibels (a pneumatic drill) at the back of the theater--the section closest to homes.

Fairgrounds officials will decide the future of the complex after the judge rules.


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