City of Solana Beach Files Lawsuit Against Del Mar Fairgrounds Over KAABOO Music Festival Approval without Proper Review Process

SOLANA BEACH, California – The future of the KAABOO music festival, set to make its return this summer, is now uncertain as the City of Solana Beach has filed a lawsuit against the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The city alleges that the fairgrounds granted approval for the event without undergoing the necessary review process. The lawsuit, filed last Monday, urges the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which oversees the fairgrounds, to revoke its approval of the festival until it complies with the California Environmental Quality Act. This Act mandates that public agencies assess the environmental impacts of their actions, a step that the city of Solana Beach claims the agricultural district neglected.

Solana Beach Mayor, Lesa Heebner, specified that the city has been urging the District Agricultural Association to implement measures that would minimize the effects of the festival on Solana Beach residents and businesses since September 2023. Despite the absence of any financial benefits for the city, its residents bear the consequences and costs associated with mitigating the festival’s impacts. Proposed measures include geofencing to restrict Uber and Lyft operations in residential areas, measures to address noise and light pollution, traffic control, increased sheriff presence, and regulations on parking and tailgating in neighborhoods.

Given the constraints of the Statute of Limitations in the California Environmental Quality Act, the city claims it had no choice but to pursue legal action to protect its rights in resolving the concerns of its citizens. The petition now requires representatives from the District Agricultural Association and the city of Solana Beach to participate in a settlement conference, although Heebner emphasizes that the city’s intention is not to halt the occurrence of KAABOO but rather to secure an agreement that addresses the city’s concerns.

The 22nd District Agricultural Association asserted that it has been engaged in constructive discussions with the City of Solana Beach for several months, expressing its commitment to being a good neighbor. The Association also highlighted its efforts to address the city’s concerns by incorporating them into the contract for the festival. The upcoming conference will provide an opportunity for both parties to continue their dialogue.

While KAABOO was last held in Del Mar in 2019, it has encountered challenges along the way. Many ticket holders for the canceled 2020 event claimed they never received refunds. Additionally, the festival’s relationship with the 22nd District Agricultural Association soured when the previous ownership planned to relocate the festival to Petco Park after 2020. After numerous legal battles, changes in ownership, and severed ties with the Padres franchise, KAABOO announced its return to the Del Mar Fairgrounds in 2023 under new ownership, the Festival Licensing and Acquisition Corporation (FLAAC). The official dates for this year’s festival have yet to be announced.

FLAAC has not responded to requests for comment regarding the lawsuit.