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Goodbye Sunset Junction Street Festival?

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Gareth Kantner looks over an empty Sunset Blvd. from his office during the Sunset Junction Festival back in August, 2008 | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist

"It's like your invited to the party but you have to stay in the bathroom," explained Gareth Kanter, owner of Cafe Stella and the properties at Sunset Junction (the red ones like Intelligentsia and The CheeseStore of Silver Lake). As the festival was in progress north of Sanborn St., south of it, where Kantner's and a plethora of other businesses are located, was empty with no booths, stages or any kind of festivity, even though it was blocked off and considered festival grounds. Kantner compared his side of the festival to the movie "I Am Legend."

Problems over the past seven years have persisted with the now infamous Sunset Junction Festival. From suggested donation entry prices that no one knew were supposed to be donations to leaving out local businesses, this year the complaints hit a tipping point. One big problem: despite a city document signed by the head festival organizer that said admission could not be charged and people were not to be denied access to the street in exchange for a street closure, the exact opposite happened. Even worse, merchants and employees trying to get to their jobs were told they had to pay to get to work.

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A festival debrief meeting held by Councilman Eric Garcetti's office at the end of September was attended by 49 community members along with city officials to meet with festival organizers. Guess who didn't show up? "It is unfortunate that [festival organizers, Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance,] could not send representatives despite being strongly encouraged to do so," wrote Garcetti in a follow up letter obtained by The Eastsider LA (kudos to Jesus Sanchez for the sleuth work). The letter continues: