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60,000 People Showed Up To A Free Concert At The Santa Monica Pier, Raising Safety Concerns For The Rest Of The Series

Crowds during a 2016 Twilight Concert Series show. (Photo via Santa Monica Pier/Instagram)
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The Santa Monica Pier's Twilight Concert Series kicked off its 2017 season on June 22, and with it, saw some of the largest crowds in the series' 32-year history.

According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, Santa Monica Chief of Police Jacqueline Seabrooks estimated that the full pier deck (which has a near-7,500 person capacity depending on configuration), combined with some 40,000 to 50,000 attendees on the surrounding beach, meant Thursday's concert was a record crowd.

“With 50,000 people in a small footprint, it only takes one person to do something sideways that has the ability to impact the city of Santa Monica and the surrounding community for years to come,” Seabrooks told the Daily Press. “I am concerned in my professional capacity, this has gone way beyond the capabilities of Santa Monica Police Department and its law enforcement partners and EMS partners…”

SMPD tweeted out a warning about overcrowding at the pier and the surround beach.

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The free concert was headlined by artist Khalid.

In 2014, the Santa Monica City Council began raising concerns about the series' growing crowd size.

"As the spillover crowds from the TCS grew in size on Santa Monica State Beach, so did the related public safety and maintenance issues," a 2014 motion states. "Concert budgets included additional private security and a limited number of Police Officers to manage the crowds on the beach. As the numbers averaged about 15,000 per event in 2013, with single events as high as 20,000 to 30,000, and approximately 2/3 of concert attendees on the beach south of the Pier, it became apparent that more public safety personnel and more infrastructure was needed."

“I think what was successful about last night is that we’ve been working for months with City departments, our producers, private event staff and security to make plans for the series and that planning and preparation paid off last night with calm collaborative action that kept the night running as smoothly as possible given the large crowd,” Jay Farrand, executive director of the Santa Monica Pier, said about Thursday's show, notes the Daily Press. “Additionally, we knew that the crowds were going to be very large for weeks in advance and had many meetings with public safety and our event staff and security to prepare, including making extra signage, hiring extra security and ushers, and more.”

“As it stands, nothing happened but that’s not the measure,” Police Chief Seabrooks continued. “The measure is being proactive and doing things safely.”

Seven more shows are planned for the 2017 TCS, with acts Miami Horror and Warpaint in line.

[UPDATE 4:50 p.m.]
"We are unable to confirm the exact size of the crowd, at this moment, but it's the largest I've seen in 20 years," Santa Monica Police Lieutenant and Public Information Officer Saul Rodriguez told LAist. He added that the crowd is expected to be an outlier, even for the remainder of the summer's series. "The crowd was mostly young people, age 14 to 19, and we believe the performer was also a large draw."

As for future concert security, "we're going to be making some changes to how the crowds get in through the gates, but, otherwise, I cannot comment on the security changes," Rodriguez added.

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LAist reached out to the Santa Monica Pier, however they were unavailable for immediate comment.

H/T: Curbed LA