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Was Sunset Junction Supposed to be a Free Event?

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The permit for the festival's street closure signed on August 20, 2008 | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist

As with years past, the Sunset Junction Street Festival has been somewhat of a contentious point between the community and well, let's face it, the small part of the community that puts this event on.

Past issues have revolved around basics like parking, traffic and noise, but the more heated debates have been over the entrance fee. Is it a donation? Is it free? Are you forced to pay the $20 to get in?

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In 2006 and before, all the Sunset Junction Festivals that had an entrance fee were by donation (although, many claim they were forced to pay even after asking about the donation). Then the festival organizers wanted the fee to be mandatory and the city said that was fine, but they would no longer waive fees like police overtime, street closures, etc. That's when last year's festival became a new beast in regards to the mandatory entrance admission.

Still, the above document signed by festival organizer Michael McKinley on August 20th of this year, states that "admission to an event may not be charged; and the public at large may not be denied access to any portion of any street except in cases of an emergency."

At the festival when presented with this information, a supervisor from the Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance said they were not honoring the petition and one of the nonprofit's board member said that McKinley didn't read what he was signing (he was busy and hurried) and that the city gave them an older form to sign without the current language.

According to Mitch O'Farrell of Councilman President Eric Garcetti's office, this document is signed for every festival in the city that takes place on a street and that it is the current form and language. However, he said while that form in theory should have allowed patrons to be let into the festival for free if they asked, that "it's time to get clarity [from the City Attorney's Office if this is consistent with law]... we'll be doing that right away."