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Fairplex proposes deal to pay Pomona $1.5 million extra to mitigate noise, traffic and trash problems

Fairplex proposes deal to pay Pomona $1.5 million extra to mitigate noise, traffic and trash problems
Fans watch a performance at the Hard Summer music festival at the Fairplex in 2015. A proposal would add a $5 charge on new music events to help mitigate noise, traffic and trash that result from events at the Fairplex. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

In hopes of resolving friction with neighbors, operators of the Fairplex in Pomona are proposing adding fees to ticket prices for some fairground events to help pay to address noise, traffic and trash problems.

The new fees charged to fans who attend the annual county fair and music events at the Fairplex, among other changes, would generate an additional $1.5 million for the city of Pomona to help mitigate problems the events create.

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Complaints by Fairplex neighbors began to increase after popular rave concerts held at the 487-acre facility starting in 2014.

“It’s important that we respond to the issues the neighbors have raised and build trust with them,” Fairplex Chief Executive Miguel Santana said in an interview.

In a letter to the Pomona City Council, Santana said he hopes the mitigation efforts will improve the relationship with the city as the Fairplex launches a “strategic plan” to upgrade the property.

The City Council is expected to discuss the proposal when it take up changes to land use designations at the Fairplex at its meeting on Monday.

The Fairplex now generates about $8 million a year for the city of Pomona. To raise an additional $1.5 million, Santana proposes a $1.50 city fee for every full-price gate admission to the annual fair and to increase to 5% from 2% the percentage of parking revenue that goes to the city of Pomona.

In addition, a $5 fee would be added to the ticket price for new music events over the next three years at the Fairplex. The money would go into a “mitigation fund,” controlled by the city, according to the plan.

Santana, who took over operation of the beleaguered taxpayer-owned fairgrounds in 2017, unveiled a 58-page strategic plan in June to boost the popularity of the Fairplex and make it a regional hub for food, music and job training. Another goal is to fix traffic congestion during big events at the Fairplex.

Among the long-term goals of the strategic plan is the construction of a greenbelt, with a bike path or jogging path, to encircle the Fairplex. The plan also calls for a transit-oriented mixed-use development built on the north end of the Fairplex campus, near the future site of the Gold Line station in La Verne.

But before Santana can get approval of his plan, he must repair the Fairplex’s relationship with neighbors who have organized under the name Protect Our Neighborhood to complain about trash, traffic and noise generated by events at the Fairplex.

Judy St. John, a member of the neighborhood group who lives about a block from the fairgrounds, said she and her neighbors have been annoyed by loud concert music that rattles their windows, trash on their sidewalks and idling cars that block emergency vehicles.

“I didn’t sign up for the kind of problems that this has brought up,” she said, noting that she moved into the neighborhood in 2000, before the Fairplex began hosting rave events.

6:15 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from a neighborhood group.

This article was originally published at 3:35 p.m.

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