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After drug complaints, Insomniac moves rave out of San Bernardino

Fans listen to Nas at the Rock the Bells festival at the San Manuel Amphitheater on Aug. 20, 2011. Beyond Wonderland is being moved there from the National Orange Show Events Center. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

After complaints about drug use and noise, Insomniac Inc., a Los Angeles rave company, is moving its Beyond Wonderland rave out from its longtime home in San Bernardino, but some neighbors of the new venue were angry about the change.

La-me-rave-san-bernardino-gInsomniac decided to shift the March 16 rave from the National Orange Show Events Center near downtown San Bernardino to the San Bernardino County-owned San Manuel Amphitheater in Devore after tensions with Police Chief Robert Handy and residents. It stages at least two other raves a year at the events center.

Handy said the raves have been marred by increases in crime, along with drug and alcohol abuse among concert-goers. He said undercover officers who attend the raves are routinely offered drugs for sale.

TIMES INVESTIGATION: A fatal toll on concertgoers as raves boost cities' income

In September, an officer was injured while trying to arrest a suspected Ecstasy dealer at an Insomniac rave, the chief added. He also said Insomniac refused a police request to lower the music volume at an October rave after neighbors complained.

"That's where we reached the impasse," Handy said. "They said, 'We will do what we have to do to continue to make a profit,'" Handy said.

Insomniac spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish denied that the company is relocating Beyond Wonderland because of poor relations with the city. She said in an email response to questions that Handy's statements about the October concert were "categorically untrue."

GRAPHIC: Read about 14 ravegoers who died in drug-related circumstances

"We are left to believe that the police chief must have been misinformed," Forkish said. "His comments are his personal perspective based upon secondhand information [that] in no way reflects what occurs at our festivals."

The County Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 last week to allow raves at the amphitheater for the first time. County officials said the venue manager, Live Nation Entertainment Inc., the Beverly Hills-based concert and ticketing giant, and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department would deploy extra security staff and sheriff's deputies to keep the concert safe and orderly.

That didn't satisfy Supervisor Janice Rutherford, who voted against the raves and said many Devore residents would not welcome them. "They are just a horrible public safety concern, certainly for the young people who attend," she said. "It's not fair to just transfer the impact."

Rutherford said she was troubled by a Los Angeles Times article about raves that was published Sunday. Citing coroners' and law enforcement records, the article disclosed that at least 14 people who attended raves produced by Insomniac and another L.A.-based company have died in circumstances involving drugs since 2006. Two people fatally overdosed at Insomniac raves in San Bernardino, in 2006 and 2009, according to coroners' reports.

Devore resident Darcee Klapp, 51, said she was unhappy about the prospect of raves held less than two miles from her home. "If it doesn't work in one area, why would you jam it down another area's throat and say it'll work here?" Klapp said.

Supervisor Josie Gonzales, who supported the prospect of raves at the amphitheater (formerly called the Glen Helen Pavilion), said in a statement: "By increasing security and limiting the events to those over the age of 18, we can make these events as safe as any other concert we have at the amphitheater. If that proves not to be the case for the first concert, I will urge the Board of Supervisors to join me in banning future events like this."

San Bernardino City Atty. James Penman, who is pushing for an end to raves at the events center, said the move to Devore was not a solution.

"I'm very disappointed that the Board of Supervisors made the decision that they made," Penman said. "The focus ought to be the illegal drug activity that's going on there — that's what caused the deaths."

Forkish, the Insomniac spokeswoman, said in her email that the city attorney's perspective "does not reflect reality."

"We look forward to having a discussion with him and educating him on the issues," she said.

ALSO:

Times full coverage: Coliseum under scrutiny

A fatal toll on concertgoers as raves boost cities' income

Raves' fatal toll of 14: The deadly mix of drugs and raves

-- Rong-Gong Lin II and Paul Pringle 

Photo: Fans listen to Nas at the Rock the Bells festival at the San Manuel Amphitheater on Aug. 20, 2011. Beyond Wonderland is being moved there from the National Orange Show Events Center. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times 

 
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