The Pemberton brothers at the 2008 West Beach Music and Arts Festival
Paul Wellman (file)

The West Beach Music Festival is happening, though not on West Beach, and not to the extent the festival has occurred in years past.

Brothers Joshua and Jeremy Pemberton — who together make up Twiin Productions — still plan to host the music festival the weekend of September 24-26, though it will now take place east of Stearns Wharf. Last week, Parks and Recreation staff told them that instead of an 8,500-person cap each day, they could only have 6,500 people a day. And the two just found out Thursday that they will not be allowed on the sand and will instead be relegated to the lawn area. This means yet another reconfiguration of the stages and setup for what will now be a two-day festival. “Not the greatest news,” said Jeremy Pemberton.

The event had grown significantly over the short time-span the twins had been hosting it, jumping from about 1,000 people per day three years ago to last year, when between 8,000 and 13,000 people a day attended the three-day show.

Since the event has been cut to two days, the twins are moving part of the festival away from the beach, with plans for parties, concerts, and other events at venues downtown, as well as a number of sunset cruises featuring live music out on the ocean.

The Pembertons are keeping experts in sound, safety, and event planning on their management team to ensure the event runs smoothly, and Twiin Productions will be responsible for full turf restoration following the event. “We want the city to know we’re committed to doing this right,” Jeremy Pemberton said.

The city saw plenty wrong with how the event went down in 2009. City police received 257 calls for service the weekend of the festival, and complaints of noise were received from miles away. Reports of underage drinking and damage to nearby property were other complaints.

The city alerted the twins in February that it would be suspending all large scale music events until it was able to develop policies and guidelines to direct the production of such events. But the Pembertons, already deep into planning this year’s event, appealed the decision to the Parks and Rec Commission, which gave the company the okay to move forward.

Neighbors appealed that decision, and on June 29 the Santa Barbara City Council upheld that appeal, denying permits to the Pembertons. The council did seem open to the suggestion that a new site on the other side of Stearns Wharf be looked at. The twins did, and worked with city staff to come up with a feasible plan with which the city could work.

An agreement was reached, though city staff — who couldn’t be reached for comment because city offices were closed Friday — keep coming to the two with changes as the event grows closer and closer.

Tickets for the festival are being increased from $45-$55 a ticket to $55-$65 to help cover costs, given the lower number of allowed attendees. Still, the twins are going to lose money on this concert, but said they were committed to their supporters and to the ticketholders.


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