Tesla’s Giga Fest at Gigafactory Texas, an invite-only event, drew a handful of concerns from local citizens over noise complaints from fireworks testing and concerns regarding a lack of public engagement from the automaker as it nears the official opening of the factory.
The April 7th event is now an invite-only event, according to a meeting with Travis County Commissioners Court members yesterday. Judge Andy Brown confirmed with another member of the court the event would be invite-only. “We’re currently working through that invite list, and the invites have not been sent out yet but they will be pretty soon,” the person said.
Previously, it was thought that Tesla would allow prospective attendees to apply for tickets, as it did with Giga Fest at Gigafactory Berlin. However, it seems Tesla will be handling all 15,000 invitations at its own discretion.
Yesterday was an opportunity for members of the public to come forward and voice concerns regarding the April 7th Giga Fest, which will be 30 percent inside the factory and 70 percent on the outdoor grounds, according to Travis County documents. While the court unanimously approved Tesla’s application, which was submitted in February by the automaker, one concern was brought forward by a man named Paul, who has worked on the Colorado River Conservancy Project for “almost a full year.” Paul stated he represented the Environmental Justice Organization based in East Austin.
“It’s a small item, right,” Paul said. “The granting of a mass gathering permit so that Tesla can have a grand opening celebration. I don’t see it that way,” he said. “I see it as an opportunity for us and for you all to do two things.”
Paul, whose last name is DiFiore, according to Bloomberg, went on to detail the lack of community engagement on the project this far, and requested the Commissioner’s Court to “apply pressure on the company to please slow down.”
“Take this analogy: I just moved to a new neighborhood in Austin, and that is Commissioner [Brigid] Shea’s Precinct,” they said. “My partner and I made cookies and made notes and took it to our neighbors and they were reciprocated with thoughtful items and how to if I need tree trimming to let [neighbors] next door know, and we shake hands. What if I moved to the neighborhood and said nothing to anyone for two years? What if I spent every day doing landscaping work and tearing down trees and building stuff and throwing dust all over my neighbors’ houses, and how about re-routing my driveway and discharging polluted water into our neighborhood creek and blocking the street with massive trucks?”
Shea responded, stating Paul’s comments were appreciated, agreeing that Tesla should do more community outreach. “I do think that there is a need for more community outreach and communication and for the Tesla folks listening, I think that you have lots of opportunities to meet more with the community and really form a powerful partnership. So I would really encourage you to do that,” Shea said. “But I am not willing to turn down this permit for this big event they have planned for a while.”
Shea also stated that emails from residents of the neighborhood adjacent to the site had complained about fireworks testing for the event. One resident, who lives in a house furthest away from the Gigafactory Texas facility, said they thought “a bomb went off, a plane went down, or something exploded.”
The Court said it would contact Tesla for more specific plans for fireworks to prepare for potential weather issues and fallout, which would protect residents from potential hazards. “If they were to do a firework show, there would have to be stand-by units and we’d coordinate with the Austin Fire Department in this situation.
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