UPDATE: In case you missed our follow-up story on the 10/21, the festival will take place as planned. Click here for more info.
Festival-goers will be distressed to hear that environmental concerns voiced by Indio’s neighboring city, La Quinta, could potentially postpone Coachella this year. La Quinta has requested Coachella’s promoter and organizer, Goldenvoice, provide an environmental assessment of the festival.
This assessment is under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which would consider the amount of traffic, noise, and pollution that is generated each year by the festival. It does not come as a complete surprise that of all the years the festival has been around, the complication would arise this year. Coachella 2012’s plan of creating duplicate festivals on two weekends was created to accommodate the many fans that were not able to attend last year because of the festival’s high demand. By making the festival two back-to-back weekends, April 13-15 and April 20-22, revenues from the festival would double, but as the city of La Quinta has pointed out, as would the environmental impact.
Taking place in Indio within the Coachella Valley of California, the walls of Coachella roughly house 60,000 to 75,000 people on any given day of the festival. Campsites and neighboring hotels swell one weekend a year as tens of thousands of people flock toward one of the most celebrated music festivals in the world. Life inside the festival appears as a rich wonderland of art and music, but the city residents have pointed out that they often experience most of the backlash that comes with hosting so many people in one location. For instance, the majority of the security incidents that occur annually in La Quinta are during Coachella weekend.
Goldenvoice is searching for a compromise rather than engaging in the environmental review with Indio officials and residents of La Quinta. They already attempted to accommodate Indio by giving them a portion of the earnings from ticket tales and by instituting a series of penalties and fines to reduce the abuse of the land, but this did not satisfy the officials in La Quinta. If the residents of La Quinta decide that the Environmental Impact Review is necessary, the process will extend beyond Coachella’s planned opening date.
Attempting to create duplicate festivals on two weekends was incredibly ambitious of the festival’s organizers. When it is difficult enough to negotiate deals with top performers, imagine the difficulty in creating a line up that would be exactly the same for two weekends. Only time will tell if this potential postponement of Coachella could complicate the booking of performers for Goldenvoice. In the past, Coachella Valley has made about $35 million a year from the festival, which means that profits could potentially double this year if the Indio officials and Goldenvoice are able to come to a compromise. On the other hand, if residents of La Quinta opt to become engaged in the environmental review, the planned start of Coachella on April 13, 2012 will likely be delayed. This would be catastrophic for fans and organizers alike, so hopefully the debating parties will be able to meet at some sort of compromise before festival dates must be reconsidered.