Blue Note Jazz Festival caused a “traffic nightmare” in Saint Helena and noise complaints | New

WATCH NOW: St. Helena Police Chief Talks Blue Note Jazz Fest

ST. HELENA — The inaugural Napa Valley Blue Note Jazz Festival, held at Charles Krug Winery July 29-31, resulted in significant traffic and parking issues, as well as several noise complaints.

Saint Helena Vice Mayor Paul Dohring said in an email that the city had received a “limited number” of complaints about the festival, but all complaints were taken seriously. He said he’s been working with city staff to make sure the noise and parking issues don’t happen again.

“Given their many benefits to our community, these music festival events can and should be embraced and welcomed by our community, but we must be proactive with a solid plan in place to quickly and decisively resolve any noise issues. , parking and public safety. “Dohring wrote in the email. “We need to enforce the city’s use permit terms, and I’m very confident that our law enforcement and planning staff will take whatever action is necessary. to make sure it gets done.”

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At Dohring’s request, Chris Hartley, chief of the St. Helena Police Department, reported on what happened to the St. Helena City Council last week.

Hartley said he met with Blue Note manager Ken Tesler on July 25 and went over security, medical and traffic mitigation plans for the festival. The traffic plan called for busing festival attendees from the city of Napa to St. Helena, using Silverado Trail and Deer Park Road to get to on-site parking in a lot off Deer Park Road on the property. Charles Kruger. That would have left Main Street and Highway 29 open to emergency vehicles and helped ease traffic in downtown St. Helena, Hartley said.

But the Napa County Department of Public Works canceled the traffic plan on July 28, the day before the festival began. This led to the resulting “traffic nightmare” on St. Helena, Hartley said. For liability reasons, the county did not want buses going up and down Silverado Trail or Deer Park Road, in part due to the need for vehicles to cross a county access bridge over the Napa River to get to at the Krug property, according to Hartley. The mitigation plan therefore had to be hastily reworked with input from Napa County Public Works on the first day of the event.

Steve Lederer, director of public works for Napa County, said in an email that the county was not included in — or informed about — discussions around the traffic plan.

“The fact remains that this was a city-sanctioned event, for which the county was not consulted (or notified) in advance,” Lederer said in the email. “As the situation deteriorated and the City requested our assistance that evening, we did our best under the circumstances to balance traffic needs and safety given the limited information we had. We look forward to working with the event organizers and the city in the future so this doesn’t happen again and have already contacted them to arrange a meeting.

During the festival, the St. Helena Police Department had three officers working weekends, and all were assigned to traffic control as people exited the event each night, Hartley said. Due to severe traffic delays, the department needed additional people to help, so Hartley enlisted the help of Blue Note workers.

“I called Mr. Tesler regarding the traffic situation on Main Street and it was because there was such a traffic mess that we needed extra people,” Hartley said. “I didn’t want to have to call on their staff who weren’t necessarily trained for that, but they had the right equipment. That’s how we got through Friday night.

That Friday, there were no noise complaints, according to Hartley. But it was a different story on Saturday and Sunday, when the festival passed a 10 p.m. noise curfew – mandated by a St. Helena ordinance – on both nights. On Saturday, the recall ended at 10:35 p.m., he said. The Sunday evening festival ended at 10:15 p.m.

According to reports from The San Francisco Chroniclecomedian Dave Chappelle was largely responsible for breaking curfew each night and threatened to ‘never come back’ to the Napa if event organizers didn’t allow him and musician Robert Glasper , the festival’s artist-in-residence, to close the festival on both days.

“Napa Valley, forgive us for disrespecting your noise ordinance,” Chappelle said, according to the Chronicle report. “It’s not noise. It’s the best America has to offer when it comes to music. What a party. What a weekend. What a group of people standing in front of me.

The police department received seven noise complaints, including six from Napa County residents and one from a St. Helena resident, according to Hartley. Ken Tesler did not respond to a request for comment before press time.

Hartley told the board that the department typically receives more “loud party calls or loud music calls from the Catholic Church than we received for the event.” He noted that inside the room, the speakers were directed north, which took the sound away from St. Helena, but probably didn’t help residents living on the Silverado Trail.

You can reach Edward Booth at 707-256-2213.

Ada J. Kenney