Cow Palace leaders have decided to ban rave-type events at the state-run entertainment venue for the foreseeable future after drug and alcohol overdoses, including two deaths, at electronic music shows this year.
On Tuesday, the Cow Palace board unanimously approved a moratorium on "music and dance parties," although that decision didn't specify a length of time or preclude the venue's leaders from considering bringing back such shows at a later date.
Despite the move, at least one Daly City City Council member still wants the state to give the city local control of certain Cow Palace events in case the venue does host those concerts again.
However, at this point and "until conditions change, we are not having these events," Cow Palace Chief Executive Officer Joseph Barkett said after the board's vote.
The moratorium comes about three weeks after more than a dozen people attending a show sponsored by a radio station fell ill because of suspected drug and alcohol use and were sent to hospitals, with two reportedly in critical condition.
That near-tragedy follows a festival in May by a different promoter that left two people dead because of drug overdoses. That Memorial Day weekend event also resulted in numerous drug-related arrests.
Several years ago, two people died of overdoses in connection with a similar music party at the venue, which is owned and operated by the state Department of Food and Agriculture's Division
Through the years, local and state leaders have called for the Cow Palace to beef up safety measures for rave-type events or ban them. Last week, the City Council passed a resolution requesting that state Sen. Leland Yee and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma draft a bill giving Daly City the power to regulate such shows at the Cow Palace.
Acknowledging the bad publicity arising from those shows and the community pressure to do something about them, Barkett told the board that "frankly, right now, we can't do these kinds of events in this climate."
But his recommendation to not hold the events is not an admission that the Cow Palace has done anything wrong, he said.
The venue has done its best to provide adequate police, security and medical personnel at such shows, he said.
"You can have any event and somebody could OD," board Director Anthony Pantaleoni added, "and the paper would blow it out of proportion."
Barkett did leave open the possibility that rave-type shows could return to the Cow Palace. In general, he said, the Cow Palace could host any given event a year or two from now that is not currently held.
Councilman David Canepa applauded the board's action, saying, "I'm extremely, extremely delighted. This really shows they are listening to our community and the council."
But Canepa will continue to pursue legislative support for Daly City to have a voice in whether rave-type events can come to the Cow Palace, he said.
"I'd like to see this enacted through legislation," he said.
Currently, Daly City has no jurisdiction over the venue because it is state-owned property.
Barkett said legislative action is not necessary anymore, but Cow Palace leaders will talk with local and state public officials.
The board's decision disappointed those in the electronic music arena.
"If the intent is to keep fans safe, this is absolutely the wrong move," said Jason Sperling, president of Skills DJ Workshop, the promoter of the Memorial Day weekend festival.
"The demand for large events featuring electronic artists will not disappear; they only will be driven underground," Sperling said in a statement. "A more responsible move would be to try to better educate electronic music fans on the dangers of drug use -- something Skills DJ Workshop works hard to do. It is unfortunate that poor decisions by a small number of individuals have ruined it for the genre's hundreds of thousands of fans in the Bay Area."
Contact Neil Gonzales at 650-348-4338.