The Junction Bites Back

Verbatum email from Sunset Junction PR:

Sunset Junction is responding to the LA Times article “Another Alarcon is making a mark at LA’s City Hall” with a timeline leading up to 2011 decision:

For 27 years, Sunset Junction wasn’t charged street closure fees because it is a 501(c)3 non-profit Youth At Risk program.  The 28th year, Sunset Junction paid $23,000; the 29th year, 0 fees were charged; and four days before the 2010 Street Fair (the 30th year), organizers were told they owed $263,000 before the street closure approval could be made.  This is more than a quarter of a million dollars leveled at a non-profit that had previously paid substantially less in fees.  This is ten times more than any other comparable citywide event that shares the same footprint/demographics, and it is substantially more than the Hollywood Bowl pays for a year of street closures and police, along with the Oscars, for their street closures and security. *This is backed up by public record.  

Three days prior to the 2010 event, Sunset Junction was told by Ms. Alarcon that they needed to sign a provided document in order to move the fair forward. This is the first time the charges of $263,000 were presented to Sunset Junction, and without an accountable breakdown of city costs for services to be provided.  Sunset Junction’s lawyer advised to sign, but to also mark “under protest,” in order to move the fair forward, which they did.  Sunset Junction also disputes Ms. Alarcon’s claim that she has worked with the organization for over a year to come to an agreement. 

Sunset Junction also feels that it is their right to a justifiable itemization and accounting of city costs, similar to Ms. Alarcon’s noted audit of a city contractor in which she concluded public works officials had overpaid.  She also demanded financial info from said company, which is similar to Sunset Junction’s request to receive city accountability for fees charged.

Several requests were made by Sunset Junction and their lawyer asking for an itemization of said bill to determine how fees were calculated but no information was forthcoming, just bills.  

In October 2010 a letter was received stating “This Was The Second Notice” requesting payment.  Sunset Junction responded this was the first piece of paper they had received stating a partial breakdown of fees.  The first letter they were referring to dated 7 October 2010, was received on 7 December 2010.  Some of the services were not performed.  What followed was a series of letters requesting a complete breakdown of fees to obtain clarification, especially with police fees, which were a large portion of fees being charged. 

In a meeting with Ms. Alarcon in July 2011, she stated Sunset Junction hadn’t made an attempt to pay the fees.  Sunset Junction mentioned all of the correspondence previously sent and offered her copies to review.  She stated she had copies of our correspondence and that she was the one orchestrating the billing.  Sunset Junction’s conclusion is that she was withholding information from us that we had repeatedly requested.

The police time sheets were finally received by Sunset Junction  on July 11, 2011, with some officers stating they worked 27 hours in one day, when Sunset Junction was informed officers were scheduled for four and eight hour shifts.  It also said 144 police officers were onsite to manage the event which we dispute.  Onsite event photos and videos widely covering the footprint of the fair do not show this amount of police visible. 

To clarify the function of Sunset Junction:  Sunset Junction Fair is an annual fundraiser for At Risk kids, former gang members and lower income/working class Latinos in the neighborhood whose residence in Silverlake pre-dates gentrification. This is an important piece of the story that is not clearly being addressed by the media.  The detractors/critics of Sunset Junction do not interface, connect or interact with this faction of the community, nor has anyone else really tried to step-up on their behalf.

It is very insulting and hurtful to hear our elected officials refer to our hard work and great efforts as “No Function Junction.”   It’s negative, demeaning and unprofessional of someone in that position, not to mention, no one else in the community has stepped up to try and do better.  Numerous former gang members and at risk youths supported by our programs, returned to show that support, by speaking up on our behalf at the Board of Public Works hearing on 8/22.         

Another clarification:  Sunset Junction did provide documented proof of $142k in funds that could have potentially allowed the festival to move forward this year.  This included a substantial loan from a well established corporate music entity that should have removed all questions/all doubt automatically from the table.  Sunset Junction legal informed the Board of Public Works on 8/23 that we had a corporate donor loan, which marks one day prior to the 8/24 hearing that would decide the fate of city permits.    

The Sunset Junction area of Silverlake was a ghost town over the weekend, with a severe lack of crowds to support the businesses.  Many business owners have complained about lost revenue due to Sunset Junction being cancelled during this economically challenging time. The businesses are angrily questioning the motives of the city in cutting off this crucial revenue stream that they depend on.  The LA Weekly says it in much clearer terms:  “Local Businesses Got Screwed.”   Please see attached photos. 

This is only one level of this story with many more that should be revealed.

 Sunset Junction

Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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