St. John’s Arena is best known for two bloodless bullfights during the annual Portuguese festival celebrating Our Lady of Fatima in October of each year.
But the arena, located in Thornton east of Sacramento Boulevard and north of Oak Street, also brings several Mexican rodeos and concerts each year — and the volume from the arena has neighborhood residents complaining.
“It’s an ongoing non-stop — it might as well be a rock concert,” Thornton resident Karen Lewallen told the Thornton Municipal Advisory Council on Wednesday night.
“We cannot enjoy being in our yards,” MAC vice chairwoman Kristine Honer added.
A petition with 27 signatures was sent in October to San Joaquin County’s Community Development Department after some residents received a notice from the county that Our Lady of Fatima Society requested a permit that would allow the organization to increase the arena’s usage.
The application has since been withdrawn, according to Denise Warmerdam, legislative assistant to county Supervisor Ken Vogel, whose district includes Thornton.
After finding out that petitioners didn’t approach Our Lady of Fatima with their concerns about noise, MAC chairman Mike Stokes suggested that concerned citizens attend a future Fatima board meeting.
“I’d rather see us try to work things out,” Stokes said. “I’m sure they’d be willing to compromise.”
Our Lady of Fatima spokesman Rich Edwards was unavailable for comment when a News-Sentinel reporter attempted to contact him by phone after Wednesday’s MAC meeting.
Lewallen and Honer said that concerts last from eight to 10 hours. Another petitioner, Jim Allan, said the concerts began on Sundays as soon as the 11 a.m. Mass was over at Mater Ecclesiae Catholic Church, located on Sacramento Street near the arena.
Honer and Lewallen said they have no issue with the bullfights at St. John’s Arena. It’s the music — especially with booming bass — that they want to see stopped.
“The arena is surrounded by private homes and was never intended to be an amphitheater,” the petition reads.
According to Lewallen, Our Lady of Fatima Society is required to apply with the county for a new permit each year, so they will attempt to have the volume reduced for 2012.
According to the petition, residents will ask the county to limit events to two hours, limit the number of events each year, establish an acceptable decibel limit and enforce it, require Our Lady of Fatima to install sound barriers around the arena, notify residents within a quarter-mile of the event schedule and control traffic at the beginning and end of events.
Lewallen added that the county only notified residents within 350 feet within St. John’s Arena; however, the noise goes way beyond 350 feet, she said.
Signatures came from residents on Sacramento Boulevard, Thornton Road, Kile Road, Midsection Street, Pine Street, Nowell Road and Alice Avenue.
The MAC, an elected advisory group that makes recommendations to the county about issues affecting Thornton, is scheduled to discuss the noise issue at its next meeting on Dec. 7.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.