City of Atlanta plans to meet with organizer of Taco Festival about complaints

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 2, 2016
Long lines were a major complaint at the Atlanta Taco Festival, held on May 1. Photo provided by Lindsay Conklin

Long lines were a major complaint at the Atlanta Taco Festival, held on May 1. Photo provided by Lindsay Conklin

This story has been updated. 

The organizer of the Atlanta Taco Festival will be meeting with city officials to discuss numerous complaints about the event.

The first-ever Atlanta Taco Festival took place on May 1 in Candler Park. It was a sold-out event, and an email from the Atlanta Taco Festival sent to one angry attendee claimed that there were 8,500 tickets sold. However, a representative of the festival told Atlanta’s WSB-TV that there were 6,504 tickets sold.

Attendees complained about long lines and problems with the wristbands that were used to track purchases from the vendors. Some said their wristbands didn’t work at all, while others said that they gave up trying to get food after waiting in line for over an hour. The email from the Taco Festival said there were 14 food trucks and 23 restaurants.

“A total of 37 vendors made 1,500 tacos each which adds up to over 55,500 tacos to be served to support a crowd of 8,500,” the email from the Atlanta Taco Festival says.

Outrage about the event increased when the organizers deleted a Facebook event listing and took the event’s Facebook page down after a deluge of angry comments from people demanding their money back.

A city of Atlanta spokesperson confirmed to Decaturish that the city is aware of the the problems.

“The [Mayor’s] Office of Special Events is reviewing the online complaints and they plan on scheduling a meeting with the event organizer to go over concerns,” a spokesperson said.

The organizer, Alisha Nesbitt, has been the target of much of the outrage. People have shared her phone number and links to her Facebook profile and encouraged outraged taco lovers to contact her directly about a refund. In an interview Sunday, Nesbitt said refunds would be issued to people with “valid complaints.”

“We are aware of it and we are working with Freshtix to take care of everything starting tomorrow,” Nesbitt said. “For the people that have valid complaints, they can email greenlight@freshtix.com.”

Initially some people were told they wouldn’t be receiving a refund, according to comments left on the All Tacos Matter Facebook page. That page was created for attendees to air their frustrations after event organizers deleted angry comments from the festival’s official Facebook pages.

The email sent to the angry attendee said, “We are issuing refunds to our guests on a case by case basis today but unfortunately no refunds can be given for long lines and wait time after wristbands have been redeemed and used. Again we apologize for the inconvenience.”

Later on Monday, May 2, Freshtix released a statement about the festival on its Twitter page saying the company is working with Nesbitt on a resolution.

“We apologize and are working with the Organizer of the #AtlantaTacoFestival to learn about their plan regarding yesterday’s festival,” the company said.

An email from the company to one attendee said the Atlanta Taco Festival is offering 50 percent refunds to dissatisfied customers.

“The Atlanta Taco Festival has given us the following instructions: If you paid the full amount through Freshtix ($27, $37 or $77) please send an email to atlantatacofestival@gmail.com and they will issue you a 50 percent refund for the amount of the ticket/wristband price via PayPal,” the email from Freshtix says. “If you purchased a Groupon or Living Social voucher, please contact them directly for refund information.”

Nesbitt has organized other events in the city before, including the Atlanta Seafood & Craft Beer Festival and Atlanta Street Food Festival. The city spokesperson said there have been no complaints regarding Nesbitt.

“We have not had an issue with her events in the past,” the spokesperson said.

Some attendees called on the city of Atlanta to refuse to grant Nesbitt a permit for any future events. It’s not clear that the city would have the authority to do that. The city’s spokesperson provided a section of the city code that shows the reasons the city can deny a permit. According to the code:

(c)

The chief of staff may deny or revoke a permit if an applicant has an outstanding debt with the city, or if the outdoor event is done on behalf of or in the name of a person, organization, corporation or other group that has an outstanding debt with the city, until such time as payment is received in full.

(d)

The chief of staff may deny or revoke a permit if an applicant has failed to complete payment of any sums required for a previously permitted outdoor event, until such time as payment is received. Said sums shall include, without limitation, the cost of supplemental services, and the cost of restoration services, including those restoration services described in subsections (e) and (f) below, arising from the past outdoor event. In the alternative, the chief of staff may condition the granting of a new permit on the payment of amounts in arrears in connection with the previous outdoor event. The chief of staff may not require the payment of arrears for previous outdoor events unless the chief of staff or her/his designee had mailed or delivered to the applicant a demand for such payment within 60 days after the ending date of such previous outdoor event.

(e)

The chief of staff may deny a permit to an applicant who has failed to substantially perform a cleanup plan which was made a condition of a previous permit, or who has defaulted on a previous sanitation bond in connection with a permitted outdoor event until such time as restitution is made in a manner and amount satisfactory to the chief of staff, or until a reasonable plan for correcting the past deficiency is agreed upon by the applicant and the chief of staff. This provision notwithstanding, the chief of staff shall not require the payment of arrears or restoration costs from previous outdoor events unless the chief of staff or her/his designee mailed or delivered to the host a demand for such payment or restitution within 60 days after the ending date of such previous outdoor event.

(f)

The chief of staff may deny a permit to an applicant who caused significant damage to city streets, sidewalks, parks, and/or other city real or personal property and, at the time of submitting an application for a new outdoor event, failed to adequately repair the damage or failed to pay a bill for restoration services in full, provided that the chief of staff or her/his designee mailed or delivered to the host a demand for such repair or restoration compensation within 60 days after the ending date of such previous outdoor event.

(g)

The chief of staff may deny or revoke a permit if the applicant has, in this city or in any other locality, violated a material condition and/or restriction of an outdoor event permit, or if the applicant’s conduct regarding the outdoor event was in violation of law or local ordinance.

(h)

The chief of staff may modify, deny or revoke a permit when, due to the scope of the outdoor event, and the number of police personnel required to provide protection and traffic control for the outdoor event, and due to the need for police personnel elsewhere in the city, the outdoor event would require the diversion of such a number of police personnel that it will be more likely than not that normal police protection elsewhere in the city cannot be provided continuously and safely for the duration of the outdoor event.

(i)

The chief of staff may deny or revoke a permit at any time if it shall appear by competent evidence that the applicant has made a material misrepresentation or given incorrect material information on the application. Prior to such denial or revocation, the chief of staff shall notify the applicant of the evidence and provide the applicant with three business days in which to rebut said evidence in writing.

(j)

The chief of staff may deny an outdoor event permit if the outdoor event is being held for an unlawful purpose, and/or violates a federal, state, or local law or ordinance.

(k)

The chief of staff may deny or revoke a permit if the applicant does not receive all sub-permits required to carry out the outdoor event, as established in article IV of this chapter, or does not fulfill any or all of the other outdoor event requirements, as established in article III of this chapter.

(l)

The chief of staff may revoke an outdoor event permit upon the applicant’s violation of the rules set forth in this chapter after s/he has received the outdoor event permit.

(m)

The chief of staff may deny or revoke an outdoor event permit when by reason of disaster, public calamity, riot or other emergency, the chief of staff, in consultation with the police chief and/or fire chief, determines that the safety of the public or property requires revocation or denial, provided that the chief of staff shall not revoke such an outdoor event permit based on any of the factors set forth in section 142-12(b) above.

(n)

An outdoor event permit may be revoked and an outdoor event may be terminated for public safety reasons by the chief of police and/or the fire chief, or their designees, in consultation with the chief of staff.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

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