& Park Uncollected Fees
For the last 8 years I have been trying to not hear amplified
concerts at Sharon Meadow while inside my home, 2/3 of a mile away. The
resistance from the Recreation and Park Department to turning down the
volume led me to look for a $ reason. To my surprise, these events weren’t
big money makers and worse, RPD wasn’t even collecting all the fees. In
particular, one promoter was paying only a small portion of the fee and
even that was late. Despite this, RPD kept renewing the permits without
bringing the problem to the attention of the Commission. When I brought it
to the Commission, they yawned. (Apparently $3,000,000 in lost revenues
wasn’t worth putting on the agenda or more than my 3 minutes of public
comment.) When threats of a lawsuit didn’t produce results, I began a
series of revolving Sunshine Ordinance Requests for specific information.
I'm on my fifth request, and slowly but surely the facts are reluctantly
being laid bare. The last request, on March 18, 2005, didn’t get a
response within the 10-day deadline, but a threat of a formal Sunshine
complaint caused RPD to fax me their item-by-item response on April 1.
Below is a
summary with some of my findings from their response.
RPD is still answering questions with as little information as possible
and not admitting to doing anything wrong. Despite this, each time they
respond, they can’t avoid giving something new and the evidence is rapidly
mounting that RPD has violated the law and has allowed others to do so.
Here are the
The Code and
the Permit requires commercial permittees to pay 25% of the certifiable
gross ticket receipts. There are no exceptions and this fee is stated in
the permit. Despite this, one permittee, Events West, has been given
special illegal favors:
1. RPD has
issued them permits without requiring the deposit.
hasn't required the permittee to submit certified data on the number of
attendees and the gross ticket receipts. Without certified information,
the 25% fee can’t be computed. Despite not paying the full fee, paying
late, and not providing the required data, their permits have continually
been renewed by RPD. RPD even issued a permit to the promoter after he
failed to pay a penny on his previous permit (i.e., stiffed RPD).
accepted the late $10,000 deposit as payment in lieu of the required fee
based on an unsubstantiated and illegal oral agreement. This action by RPD
is illegal and they know it. All the records demonstrate there was no such
agreement, and regardless, it wasn't valid. Where is RPD's City Attorney?
pressure to retrieve the data, RPD found “one” old record of a payment by
Events West on July 30, 2002 for a Sept. 2001 A La Carte A La Park event.
The payment of $23,000 for a three-day event wasn’t itemized and was 11
months late. It demonstrates that in 2001 the illegal flat fee that RPD
accepted was $7,500 a day x 3 = $22,500 plus a $500 donation for use of
the Sharon Art Building. This isn’t the $10,000 per event that RPD claims
is the long-standing flat fee and proves there was no such agreement —
i.e., $10,000 per event isn't $7,500 per day, and neither is in the Code
or the Permit, which call for a minimum of 25% of gross receipts, which
would have brought in a minimum of $50,000 a day [10,000 people (estimate
on the permit ) x $20 per ticket = $200,000 x 25% = $50,000].
5. RPD has
ignored the 2002 and 2003 Reggae events which they say are paid in full
($10,000 per event), yet RPD sent me a document dated March 24, 2002 in
which Events West is asked to
Service fee for Reggae in the Park (2002). Please also include financial
quotation highlights two inconsistencies: (1) On March 24, 2002 RPD was
requesting payment of the "service fee" for an event that wasn't held
until Sept. 2002; and (2) RPD now states that the fee was a flat $10,000,
so they had no reason to ask Events West to submit a financial accounting.
Is it possible these statements were typed in after the fact to throw me
off track? Regardless, it proves that the $10,000 flat fee is a cover-up
and RPD managers aren't checking what their employees are saying, and
apparently don't want to because they will find what I am finding.
6. RPD is
unwilling to admit the error of their ways but " would be happy to discuss
these circumstances further . . ."
I will be
doing a more detailed analysis and will ask Katharine Petrucione, the new
(4 months) RPD Director of Finance and Administration, to meet with me to
sort out the facts. Otherwise, the dirty whirlpool will get deeper and
pull her in.
info on this “revolving” sunshine request, call Dr. Martin Macintyre at
earlier article on this subject appeared in the SF Call on
February 16, 2005.