YOUtopia Venue Updates: Renting and Buying and Realistic Expectations, Oh My!

Spoiler alert: we don’t have any earth-shattering news to share. The purpose of this blog post is to keep YOUtopians in the loop about our progress with respect to renting and/or buying land for YOUtopia. Skip to the end for the TL;DR.


After we sent out the survey requesting public commentary about land purchase, we heard from some very impassioned folks who made a great case for why we should rent again in 2019. More specifically, a great case for why we should rent our previous venue, even at their asking price. We revisited the numbers and came up with a way we could make it work. However, despite our efforts to revisit this option, it appears the tribe does not want us back. We hope we’re wrong about that, but right now it seems we’re getting ghosted like a bad Tinder date. 
We have also attempted to rent the campground down the road – the one some of you rave about (pun intended) and others of you malign because of its lack of water. It appears they are also not interested in hosting us.
In our request for public commentary, many of you extolled the virtues of hosting YOUtopia on tribal land so we don’t have to deal with issues of permitting and LEO. We could not be more aware of the benefits of holding the event on tribal land, but that is contingent upon a tribe being willing to host us. Many of you also extolled the virtues of the LALA/Bequinox property; we’ve explored that thoroughly and for a variety of reasons it’s not logistically or fiscally viable.
We’ve been exploring other rental venues in Southern CA that are capable of handling a population of 3,000+ people (100 acres) as well as smaller venues that would entail contracting our population size. We haven’t exhausted every possible option, but pickins are slim.
Our wish list is long and glorious, but the reality is that right now we’ll settle for a venue that will allow us to obtain a Conditional Use Permit, gift alcohol, and allow sound (even if it’s not super loud or 24/7). There are a great many other features we want but something, something, beggars, choosers.


Hoooboy! At time of this writing, we’ve gotten 252 responses to our Request for Public Commentary about buying land. That is far and away the most responses we’ve ever gotten to anything ever. We’re going to leave the form open indefinitely, so if you haven’t weighed in yet, you still can. Here are the results to date, with a little editorial following.


After these multiple choice questions, there was an open-ended “tell us what you think,” section. The most frequent (paraphrased) comments were:

  1. LALA/Bequinox did this and OMG BEST THING EVER!!!
  2. I love trees and water and power. You must only buy land with trees and water and power.
  3. I have concerns that if we’re on private land, we have to deal with permitting and LEO and that will radically change the nature of the event. 
  4. I love LJIC and am willing to pay more to stay there.

In reviewing all the responses, we were surprised by a few things:
Overwhelming Support for Purchase – we suspected the idea would be well-received, but we didn’t anticipate it’d be 78% well-received.
Resistance to Radical Self-Reliance – while 77% of you said you were on board with Radical Self-Reliance, the number of comments demanding water, trees, and (to a lesser extent) power was surprising. We get it, LJIC is really nice. Trees and water and power are great and they make things easy, unlike BRC. The reality is, though, that trees and water and power are really, really expensive in Southern California, and unless you’d like to gift SDCAP with several million dollars, it ain’t happenin’. If we buy land, it’s going to be raw land without amenities. And we’ll all have to be radically self-reliant.
Willingness to Pay More – we were blown away that 85% of respondents said they were willing to pay more to help with start-up costs associated with land purchase. Again, we have no (zero, zilch, nada) plans to increase ticket costs; it was truly a hypothetical question. A huge part of our motivation for considering purchase is that (if we find the right property) it should pay for itself in a year or three – meaning we could possibly, maybe, eventually even lower ticket prices. Which should please the 15% of you who were angry we even dared ask such a question.
Beyond those surprises, we were really touched by all the words of encouragement and thoughtful advice people had for us. We absolutely share all your concerns and are taking our time exploring the purchasing option. We’ve gotten the ball rolling with permitting, but that process is a marathon, not a sprint. And it’s likely going to involve an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) just like Burning Man, which is also a big deal. We have our work cut out for us, and even if purchasing makes sense, it’s not going to happen in time for YOUtopia 2019.

Realistic Expectations

We’ve had a sweet deal at LJIC for the past 9 years, but it appears that era is coming to an end. We would love to be able to rent tribal land for 2019 and more or less maintain the status quo that people have come to expect, but that does not currently seem to be a viable option. This means we’re going to have to compromise and make concessions. We don’t know what those concessions will be, but first and foremost, YOUtopia will continue to adhere to the 10 Principles in order to maintain its status as a Regional Burn.
We appreciate all the feedback and support we’ve gotten from the 2019 YOUtopia Leadership Team, survey respondents, folks who showed up at our last board meeting, and folks who’ve reached out us with offers to help. We absolutely need your help, so please keep it coming!
We’ll be discussing YOUtopia venue at our board meeting this week (June 12 @ CoLab, 7-9pm) and at every future board meeting (2nd and 4th Weds of the month) until it’s resolved. Please join us!
TL;DR: we still don’t have a venue for YOUtopia 2019. Buying land is an option but we’re not going to rush it, so it’ll be 2020 at the earliest. Despite our best efforts, we have not been able to secure a rental venue. If you can help with a rental venue for 2019, please reach out to us!