BMOrg: “we like slow growth, the permit allows 70,000 but we don’t want that until 2016”

Will Chase has graced us with his presence, in an attempt to dispel a rumor “before it starts”

Hi folks … everything that Bobzilla said is correct, including — most importantly — that the 70,000 population cap is what we’d grow to by the END of this 5-year permit, NOT this year. Just trying to dispel the rumor that we could go to 70k this year before it starts.

First of all, let me say how disappointing it is to see this attitude from BMOrg.

Here we have the assistant field manager of the BLM office, giving a GIANT FRIKKING HINT that 70,000 people would be OK by them.

Cory Roegner, of the BLM’s Black Rock Field Office, said no group has come out so far against organizers’ proposed five-year license that would increase the crowd cap from 58,000 to 70,000 over the next five years.

Fewer individuals than past years have lodged complaints, he said, and the reason for the dampened opposition is twofold.

“Organizers have been doing a great job of cleaning up and leaving no trace,” Roegner said. “I think they’re also providing a lot of economic benefits to northern Nevada, which I think members of the public are responding to.”

 Here we have Maid Marian, saying “we could easily accomodate 100,000”.

Goodell said she thinks the desert venue could accommodate a Burning Man crowd of 100,000 or more.

“We’re not aiming for it at this point, but the desert can hold that many,” she said. “But we have to make sure we have the infrastructure for a larger crowd … (and) whether our community wants it. We just went over 50,000 people for the first time last year. We’re fans of slow growth.”

Being a “fan of slow growth” is the same as being a “fan of denying tickets to 70% of Burners”. They got the permit, so why wouldn’t BMorg be lobbying the BLM for more tickets? They could say: “We did the assessment, we worked out how to accomodate 70,000, can we please get closer to that for this year, I know we didn’t anticipate growing quite so quickly but the demand is huge and many core Burners are still without tickets”.

The Environmental Impact Assessment itself says that the additional logistical requirements to support 70,000 are not significantly different than the past. It also says that more Law Enforcement presence is not required.

BLM on thousands of tickets being held in reserve at the gate:

if BRC/LLC stops sales then it will reserve a limited number of tickets to be sold at the Box Office for participants who show up at the Gate and have nowhere else to go. This will avoid the issue of loitering in Gerlach and Empire, as well as avoid camping in the Closure Order area. This small number of tickets will already be factored into the overall number of participants that BRC can support. 

BLM on accomodating 70,000:

The City would be laid out in an arc centered on the sculpture of The Man. The arc would have a radius of approximately 3,020 feet for a population size of 58,000 people and would expand to 3,250 feet with a population of 70,000 people by adding an addi-tional street and a few blocks for overflow on the left side of the City near 10:00 (see Figure 2-2). 

The total area encompassed by BRC within the perimeter fence (not including the event access road) would be about 3,200 acres or approximately 3 percent of the total area within the Black Rock Desert playa …

The residential portion of BRC would include about 820 acres for a population size of 58,000 people and would expand to up to 950 acres with a population of 70,000 people. Several hundred additional acres outside the perimeter fence would be used for access roads, a temporary airstrip, airport parking, the BLM communications center, a ticket booth, a greeters’ station, and a 50-yard buffer area immediately outside and adjacent to the perimeter fence. It is likely that gate entry points would increase in parallel with population growth by as much as 20 additional acres between populations of 58,000 and 70,000 people. 

So, the extra infrastructure required, is about 200 feet of radius, and 20 acres of gates, 130 acres of city (out of an area that is 14,153 acres in size). All the calculations have been done in the document, for what is required for 70,000. It seems like the BLM is on board, the Nevada economy is benefitting, and the Default community has not raised loud objections. The Burner community, meanwhile, are screaming for more tickets.

Why, BMorg, why? Do you hate the Burners that make your party so much, that you wouldn’t make an attempt to get several thousand more of them there? Especially when the community has been “devastated by a swiss cheese effect” of a mysterious secret algorithm. Why not just ask the BLM to move the permit needle closer to the 70,000, than the 58,000?

Well, let’s look into this “why” a bit further. What is the big disaster if a rumor gets out that more tickets might be released, and that rumor turns out not to be true? Who would that hurt?

For one, Burners.Me, since it seems like we are implicated in spreading a  rumor. If it turns out not to be true, then maybe we look foolish. Whoops-e-daisies! It’s just a blog people. But, so nice of BMOrg to look out for us this way. BTW we are not trying to spread any rumors – just offering our opinions and interpretation of the documentation we have available, which we link to and attribute wherever possible. You make up your own mind, please. Our prediction is that when the official attendance for 2012 is published, it will be closer to 70,000 than 50,000.

What about the Burner community? Maybe false information could dash their hopes and dreams? Well, this hasn’t impeded the BMOrg before – changes to STEP, giving 40% of tickets to newbies, cancelling the secondary ticket release for the World’s Biggest Guest List, implementing a ticket lottery system despite the community predicting (accurately) that it would be a huge disaster. It doesn’t seem to me like BMOrg gives two shits about disappointing the Burner community.

Who else would the rumor hurt? Who else would be impacted negatively by an impression getting out that there might be 12,000 more tickets coming on the market?

Well, quite clearly, the answer is scalpers. Price is a function of supply and demand, if supply increases substantially then price drops. If price drops then scalpers make less money for the massive inventory they are holding.

This seems to be what has happened on Stubhub. I’ve been tracking the prices from time to time. At the start of February, you could get tickets for around $600. A couple of weeks ago, tickets had been steadily increasing about $100/week for a pair. The cheapest available tickets were $1600 for 2. A couple of days ago, this had droppped back to $1200. And today, it’s dropped further to $1050.

That’s right folks, the bottom is falling out of the scalped ticket market. Perhaps coincidentally, this seems to have started about the time that our post speculating that the increased permit size could give us hope for more tickets went viral – we got more hits in one day on this post than we did in the entire previous month. Maybe it was mentioned at the Regional Burn conference.

So what is the appropriate response from BMOrg to this situation? Perhaps a shout out to Burners.Me for cutting through the bullshit and bringing you all the facts as outlined in the Environmental Impact Assessment? Maybe to rejoice that the cursed scalpers are seeing their margins squeezed?

Nope, nothing like that. BMorg wants to kill the rumor. Quick, before it starts. 


Cui bono – who benefits? Usually, the answer to that question is follow the money.

It certainly seems that, every chance they have, BMOrg is ignoring the wishes of the Burner community to implement measures to deter scalpers; and instead, makes decisions and announcements that play perfectly into the hands of scalpers. If there had just been one or two decisions like this, and the ticket lottery process had been more transparent, I’d be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But it seems like it just keeps happening, again and again. If BMOrg are really against scalpers, maybe they should at long last do something to show they’re on the side of the community and not the scalpers.

For example, lobbying the BLM to let thousands more Burners in (like the permit allows). As well as a great boost to the community and the party, this would result in another $5 million for BMOrg. Why turn down $5 million, and piss the community off at the same time? Is it all because they’re afraid of some more cars on the road, or more disgruntled residents of Gehrlach (population: 500)? Or is it because some senior decision makers in the BMOrg are making money on the side via the secondary market?

30 comments on “BMOrg: “we like slow growth, the permit allows 70,000 but we don’t want that until 2016”

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  14. While I appreciate your efforts to keep the community informed, and to offer your passionate commentary about the evolution of Burning Man, I’m disappointed that when I commented on your post in an effort to provide clarity and accuracy to what you’re reporting, you chose to smack us with it. Spreading inaccurate information isn’t particularly helping the community, so please, email me directly and I’ll be happy to help you understand the bigger picture, and clear up the other factual inaccuracies and assumptions upon which you’re basing your conspiracy theories and accusations. I think we’ll all benefit from that.

    • Readers, I did take up Will’s request to message him directly after he posted this, but I suspect it was more of an attempt to get this thread offline than to actually inform the community of Burners. FYI, here’s the questions I asked:

      #1. How did the 40% of newbies figure come about in the lottery? Was this purely random, or an algorithm?
      #2. Why not ask the BLM for more than 58,000 this year?
      #3. What steps has BMOrg taken to investigate scamming of the ticket lottery? Did you try to find out if you’d been hacked, or if someone had received more than 2 tickets?
      #4. Why won’t you publish the results of the survey?
      #5. Why won’t you publish the list of which theme camps got the 10,000 tickets?

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  17. >they had a million people at Woodstock, and that was almost 50 years ago now.

    You clearly weren’t there. I was. I was six, I went with my partents to see my cousin perform,

    Anyway….the influx of people created a MASSIVE traffic jam that closed the New York State Thruway was closed. The facilities were not equipped to provide sanitation or first aid for the number of people attending; hundreds of thousands found themselves in a struggle against bad weather, food shortages, and poor sanitation.

    Increasing the population from 50K to 70K is FAR more complex than just ordering up a couple hundred more porta-potties. There are hundreds upon hundreds of details and logistics that need to be changed every time population is expanded.

    The permit being applied to allows for the growth, OVER 5 YEARS, not immediately.

    • >Or is it because some senior decision makers in the BMOrg are making money on the side via the secondary market?

      This is just a baseless accusation. You’ve lost all credibility.

      • thanks for claiming I ever had any credibility! Please note readers that all my questions still remain unanswered by the BMOrg. Rather than addressing the points I’ve raised, all they can do is call me names.

      • What you are failing to understand is that *all* the statements made by BLM, etc are in the context of “over five years”. Nowhere does anyone say, we can do 70K right now. Its right in front of you and several people have pointed it out.

        Any response to your baseless accusation that the senior decision makers in the BMOrg are making money on the side via the secondary market?” How do you back that up? Any evidence? Hmmmmm?

      • …..and no on from the BMORG has called you names. The only people from the BMORG here are Will and I and we have not done so.

      • Apologies for the delay in getting back to you Bobzilla – I have been driving around Australia, and doing my best to keep this blog going while on the road. Back in the Bay with good ‘ole 4.5G LTE soon.
        I have written a detailed post to respond to your questions. And you’re right, no-one from BMOrg has called me names (yet!). Thanks for keeping it civil

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  19. This blog is written by a surprisingly stupid person, who, just for starters, doesn’t understand what “over the course of 5 years” means.

  20. And when there are major infrastructure problems because of a staggering 50% increase in participants I’m sure you’ll be bitching about that too.

    The land might be able to accomodate 70k or even 100k, but the roads, the dpw, area porto servicers, etc might not be.

    Would you rather a few thousand burners be turned away this year or have a major problem that endangers the BLM permit or area relations?

    • I would rather accomodate people like the permit says BMOrg is capable of. If you read the report, there are repeated assurances that 70,000 can be handled without a problem. There are ways around the road issue, including opening the doors earlier and extending the party later. Reducing the Exodus to 1 line at a time is a step in the opposite direction, IMO. Burning Man is a pretty small event compared to many others in the US – they had a million people at Woodstock, and that was almost 50 years ago now. In terms of infrastructure, you would need to rent another couple of hundred portapotties – this doesn’t sound like an insurmountable challenge, given the resourcefulness of San Francisco people. In terms of area relations, I have provided links to articles where BLM says local authorities and groups are very supportive. The permit states that the BLM gets more money if more tickets are sold. The window for public comments closes tomorrow, so we will see if there has been significant outrage about the 20% population cap increase.

  21. I think it boils down to infrastrastructure, it basically a 2 lane road that leads to the site, who wants to spend 8 hrs plus waiting to get in or out ?????

    • that’s what I did last year, and the year before, and 2 years before that. I’m not saying Exodus can’t be improved, but I think if “the road is too small for 70,000” then they would have said that somewhere in the Environmental Impact Assessment. Instead it says “we considered other road options and decided we don’t need them” and “we can handle a population cap of 70,000 with the way we’ve done things in the past”

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