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Why I am Opposed to the Return of BottleRock to the Napa Fairgrounds.

NOTE: I am not opposed to the return of BottleRock, but I am opposed to the return of BottleRock to the Napa Fairgrounds. Since the very first announcement of BottleRock back in January I have been trying to form an opinion. At first I was firmly against the event. I was against it not because I take issue with great music, but because of what I saw as a breach of public trust and the use of unethical business practices by a group of promoters. The idea that an event of this magnitude could come to our community without so much as a public hearing was frankly appalling. To this day I feel that while their deal was technically legal it lacked any measure of ethics, social responsibility or principles. In the days and weeks leading up to the start of BottleRock, like most of us I prepared for the worst. Contingency plans for dining and groceries were made and our plan was to settle in and lay low. I was bitter that my life was being modified to such a degree by a couple businessmen and I was ashamed at my city leaders for allowing this type of thing to happen. I understood that the state owned the fairgrounds, but I found this to be of no consequence. It was still our city was in the middle of it and we should have had more control. My life was being modified for someone else’s business enterprise and that disgusted me. I felt I was paying for their profit. By the second day of the event I realized that all my apocalyptic predictions were incorrect. From where I live in south Napa I heard no thumping base drums. There were no roaming bands of tourists. No one parked on my lawn and no one wandered into my back yard. To the contrary, it was just another day. I even made it down to Raley’s and to the dog park. Heck, I even got into the Soscol Arco without waiting in line (which is no easy feat on a normal day). Further, I even stopped to take a picture of a completely deserted Soscol Avenue while I pumped my gas. I decided that since my life was unaffected by the event that BottleRock must be therefore be great and I suddenly felt guilty for having not purchased tickets for my family and jealous of those that did. I had effectively switched sides. I thought to myself how great this was for our community and how it was really going to improve our already amazing reputation as a tourist destination. But after a few days of reading the posts on Facebook, the Napa Register website and NapaPatch.com I discovered that despite my personal bubble of acceptance, all was not necessarily perfect. Sure there were dozens of posts from those that were attending the event chatting about how wonderful the event was, but there were others that were telling stories of huge crowds of people roaming through their neighborhoods, of garbage in the streets and apparently intoxicated people roaming their neighborhoods and extremely loud music and performers swearing through their microphones and children playing in clouds of marijuana smoke while police stood around and watched. I heard stories of mothers fighting to put their crying children to sleep while the windows of their homes shook. There were many stories like this. Slowly I realized that BottleRock was far from perfect. It was certainly great for me in my little bubble at the end of Coombs, but for some members of my community it was like living in a nightmare. I switched sides again. Now that the event is over and the smoke has cleared a bit (so to speak), I have struggled with trying to decide if I support the return of BottleRock or not. We know that the city generated tax revenue, but did it really offset our costs? The city must have paid out a small fortune to provide safety, security and infrastructure. We know that that several of the businesses reaped a small fortune from the event, but other businesses lost several days of business and some just had to close down. Not just the owners of these businesses lost money, but the staff they employ were sent home without pay - money that they certainly could have used to feed their families. As I read through the comments and letters I worked hard to find a rational justification to offset those negatively affected by BottleRock. I tried to encourage those in favor of its return to the Fairgrounds to help me decide. I asked publicly for some reason that was tangible and reasonable. Despite my best efforts I failed to find any reasonable justification and no one in the social media groups offered up any tangible benefits either. Sure, there were a few comments about the money that some businesses made, but that was offset by the letters and stories about companies and employees that lost money. Some businesses stated they went entire days without a single customer. On the other side of the issue, most of the comments spoke to how much fun they were having. How they loved a particular band and the “vibe” of the show. One thing that was clear to me was that if you went to the fesitval, you almost certainly had fun. Even if you didn’t go but could hear your favorite band playing from down the street that was great too. Despite the great times, no one really explained why it needed to be at the fairgrounds aside from the fact that it was “neato”. It was about this time that I realized that almost every positive comment that I read was somehow selfishly motivated. The words “I” and “We” were present everywhere. “I want it back”. “I thought it was great”, “We had a blast”, “We had no problems”, “Worked for me…” Once I noticed this trend, I found myself getting more and more disgusted with each comment I read. Then I stumbled on one of my own comments, “I didn’t even go to the thing and I had no problems at my house. I think it was great.” Is what I wrote. It was then that I realized that we were all so personally motivated that we failed or refused to recognize that our town was made up of more that just “me”. I looked back and searched out the comments from those with issues and concerns. There were several that spoke about children. Some people could not get their children to sleep. Some were uncomfortable with the filthy language spewing from the mouths of the performers. Some spoke of pot smoke engulfing children on their streets and in the event itself. One gentleman spoke of fearing for his property as the concert got out each night and staying up late just to make sure no one vandalized his property. One person wrote that their pet was shaking uncontrollably from the loud noises, while many others of rattling windows hundreds of loud, intoxicated individuals wandering past their homes in the middle of the night. There were many other complaints of traffic, public urination and blocked streets. For me, I kept returning to the stories about the children of our community. I have decided that I will not support the return of BottleRock to the Napa fairgrounds, and I believe that it would be a mistake for our city leaders to allow it to return to that venue. I closed my eyes and imagined myself in the shoes of all of those negatively affected by this festival and realized that I have been selfish. Just because I am comfortable and happy does not mean that all is well in BottleRock land. Napa is still a small town. I know that many people hate that idea and some are working hard to eliminate that from our reputation. They see being a small town as a weakness. They feel we need to be more progressive and cosmopolitan. They want us to grow and evolve. But I disagree with them. I believe that being a small town is one of our strengths. It makes us special and unique. Once we quit being a small town and start being a city we lose our heart. Once be become a city we will be little more than a collection of businesses surrounded by houses full of faceless citizens. Once we become a city we cease to be a collection of charming neighborhoods and become a collection of subdivisions. Where there were once communities and families there will be drive-thru restaurants and strip malls. Our small and modest fairground is surrounded by two of our oldest neighborhoods, Alta Heights and Juarez. These communities are full of older homes alive with young families, some with very low incomes. They are our neighbors and our friends. They are residents of our town and I submit to you all that our duty as a small town is not to be seduced by big business, but to protect our communities from being stepped on in a money grab. A few men seek to turn a profit by trampling on the backs of our neighbors. They see these people as disposable families that sit in the way of their goals to make money. They have discounted them. Is it because some of them are not as rich as they are? These promoters sell us on the idea that it is OK because we will make money and have fun. We are told by them that profit is good. Listening to music is good. It is all good. They assume that the neighbors they step on will get over it. I say no, it is not good. I believe we are a small town full of neighbors, families and friends. I believe that we are a close community and as such we should stand together. Sure we could make money from our neighbor’s discomfort, but what does that say about us as a town? How does this define us? Some of the lowest family incomes live in the Juarez neighborhood. Does that make them less important than those of us in other neighborhoods? Will we sell them out for a few extra dollars? Do we really want to sell our souls for some music? Is our price for selling out our friends and neighbors a rock concert? Will we allow one business to trample on another so they might reap a profit? Should we take away the lively hood from one family so that another can double theirs? I for one do not want to have to look in the eye of a father whom fought to put his children to bed because I wanted to listen to Primus. If we cannot stand together as a community, then I expect our city leaders to do it on our behalf. This is an important moment in the history of our town. Our leaders are setting precedent for what we stand for. They are defining some of our core values through their decisions about the future of this event and the decision they make will be relevant moving forward as more and more events are proposed. What do we stand for? Do we step on the backs of our neighbors in a frenzy for profit and greed or do we stand to protect them from unreasonable infringement of their rights to safety, security and enjoyment of their homes and property. The governments of the city and county of Napa are about to establish our core values. I hope they do what’s right and protect our neighborhoods and families.
Yuki June 07, 2013 at 11:03 AM
Bottlerock still has no paid a large majority of the people who helped make this event happen. They are delinquent on payments to the very people who worked so hard on their behalf to make this event a " success " . This shows incredibly poor judgement and an utter lack of respect for the community . I say don't give them another opportunity to rip the public off again.

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