While the first Pueblo Fest was enjoyed by thousands in Tulare, there were atleast a few neighbors who were unhappy with the event. Held at the International Agri-Center in mid-March, the three-day Fest drew people from up and down the Valley with music and dance into the evening hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The music was beyond annoyance level for some residents of Sunrise Estates, within one-half mile from the center. Two residents called the Agri-Center voicing their concerns. Three spoke during the public comment forum during a recent Tulare City Council meeting, as recommended to them by Agri-Center staff. The neighbors did not lodge formal complaints with local police, but they wanted to express their concern and to discourage a repeat of the noise levels.
Complaints to Council
“My home is very close to the International Agri-Center,” said Amy Smith, “approximately one-half mile as the crow flies. An almond orchard is all that separates my home from the Agri-Center property.
“The Agri-Center has hosted many successful events since we moved into our home in 2006. Occasionally we can hear some noise from Agri-Center activities, but it has never been a problem for us before. On the weekend of March 17-19, 2017, the International Agri-Center hosted a three-day music festival. While I understand that this event was successful, which benefits all Tulare residents, my family and I were adversely affected by the constant loud music.
“During the three-day event, we were able to clearly hear the concert music inside of our home, with all the doors and windows closed. Not only was the music volume excessive but it lasted until 10pm each night. Ten pm is way past the bedtime of my nine-year-old daughter and six-year-old son, especially on a school night. My children had difficulty falling asleep all weekend because of the loud concert music.”
Smith said she understood that city council had approved the permit for the event. She asked that the council “carefully” review all requests in the future regarding noise level and event hours.
“It is completely unreasonable for a property owner to clearly hear concert music within the walls of their home from an event that is one-half mile away,” she said.
Neighbor Laura Yeager also addressed the issue.
“The Agri-Center is a wonderful venue for many people to enjoy,” Yeager said.
“However, on the evenings of March 17, 18 and 19, the concert music was so loud that my children couldn’t sleep,” she said. “Seven o’clock is when I usually but my kids down, and the music was going until at least 10pm. I understand on Fridays and Saturdays, because that’s the weekend – but Sunday night was really difficult because the children had to get up at 6am the next morning and function on very little sleep.”
She asked that a discussion be held at a later date to talk about decibel levels and Agri-Center contracts.
She ended by saying, “Again, I completely support the Agri-Center – it’s not that I don’t want events happening out there. I think it’s truly great. But, I would like the noise level to come down, just a little bit.”
Jennifer Harlan revealed that she has lived in Sunrise Estates since July, 2013 and said, she “had never had a concern like this before.”
“The music and the announcements could be heard through our walls and our windows even when closed,” she said. “I have recordings from within my house and from my backyard that I would be happy to share.
“I would like it to be noted that it was EXTREMELY disruptive to my family especially to my children as they could not go to sleep. This negatively impacted my children the following day, as they were tired and did not get proper rest for school. I know my children were NOT alone in this incident. I am a school psychologist and I work for Tulare City, and PROPER sleep is CRITICAL for a child.
Harlan said she had contacted and spoke with Ben Brubaker at the International Agri-Center.
“He was very apologetic about the noise, and he said that he wants to have a good relationship with the community. . .
“He also shared with me that with the new overpass coming that they are going to be booking a lot more venues and concerts. I fear that this is going to become a regular occurrence, and I don’t want it to negatively impact our neighborhood. I feel like others and myself in the community would like to know that this won’t be repeated.”
Harlan “urged” the council to come up with a plan to address future events.
Officials from the Agri-Center were indeed disturbed to hear of the problem – a problem they hope to prevent again in the future. The center property is about one-half within city limits and one-half within county limits, said Brubaker, facility rentals manager.
The center staff wants to assure that it follows city and council ordinances, he said, something he feels the center can help do itself, but purchasing a decibel reader.
According to Tulare’s code for amplified sound noise standards, “Sound or noise produced by sound amplification equipment used at all city parks and other city facilities shall be measured at points not greater than 100 feet from the sound source within city parks or facilities and shall not exceed 85 decibels.”
Brubaker said that tests can be given when amplified sound is to be used at an event to assure that the noise level is below the upper limits. The center is not accustomed to having many concert-type events that amplify sound during evening hours, he said. But, that is something that could increase in the future.
Brubaker also commented that the center is looking into updating its rental contract to include the city and county codes for noise levels. Reducing noise from carrying options include using a different area of the grounds, as well as having the speakers regulated as to how far they will push sound.
“We are actually pursuing other opportunities for Tulare,” said Brubaker, who formerly was the city’s chamber of commerce director. “We’re looking to help Tulare become a destination.”
Much of what the Agri-Center is hoping to attract is agriculture in nature, or related in some way, such as livestock shows, horse shows and more.
Prior to Pueblo Fest, noise complaints were not an issue with the center – atleast, as far as Tulare Sergeant Andy Garcia can remember. Recent records did not reveal any formal complaints. And, similarly, no complaints were filed in proximity of the Tulare County Fairgrounds during last year’s fair.
With the success of Pueblo Fest, producers are looking to make it an annual event. They have booked the Agri-Center for the same weekend next year.