Christopher Street West, the organization that puts on the annual L.A. Pride parade and festival, will have to disclose its budget for the event and make available its federal tax return under proposed rules for events developed by West Hollywood’s Economic Development Department.
The recommended changes in the city’s event policy will go before the West Hollywood City Council on Monday. They are the result of a study city staffers were asked to undertake in July 2016 at a time when some CSW was being criticized for having lost $396,000 on the previous month’s Pride events and for its unwillingness to disclose finances for the event. The City of West Hollywood effectively subsidized last year’s Pride events with payments for public safety services and waived fees. The city has allocated $1.1 million for this year’s event, an increase of 71% because it will require bigger public safety services because of the Resist March demonstration that will replace the traditional Pride parade. That protest march is anticipated to attract many more people than the 125,000 who attend the Pride parade.
The policy changes include a dramatic reduction in the fee charged for minor events such as local business sidewalk sales and opening receptions at art galleries. The permits required, dubbed administration special event permits, will cost $25 rather than the $200 fee currently charged. Business owners will be able to apply online. Some local merchants have complained about the cost of permits for staging sales on the sidewalks outside of their stores.
The new policy also would create three classes of events:
— Major events would be those that have significant impacts on public safety or traffic or generate major noise and/or require closing of public streets. Producers of such events would have to provide the city with a production schedule, pay a fee of $2,500 to $7,500 and make a deposit with the city of $25,000 if the event is held on public property. The proposed fees are the same as what the city currently required, with the fee at its lowest if the event producer seeks a permit 30 or more working days ahead of the event and at the highest level if it seeks a permit fewer than 15 working days before the event. If the city sponsors or co-sponsors the event by covering some of its costs beyond fee waivers, the producer would have to provide the city with the event budget and a copy of the organizations Form 990, which is the annual federal tax return filed by non-profits. Those events also would require advance planning, with the production schedule submitted at least 45 days before the event. Major events would include L.A. Pride and the annual Halloween Carnaval.
— Minor events are those that might require a partial street closure, significant use of a parking lot, full closure of sidewalk, temporary structures erected in a parking lots requiring a building and safety permit or that extend across several storefronts on a sidewalk. Fees for such events would range from $1,000 to $1,500, as is currently the case. As with major events, if the city’s financial support extended beyond fee waivers, the event producer would have to disclose its budget and, if a non-profit, its IRS 990 tax return. An example of such an event would be the annual Sample Saturday and West Hollywood Health Fair, at which dozens of merchants offer their products from tables stretching east and west of Capital Drugs on Santa Monica Boulevard. Another example would be the annual Women’s Leadership Conference, whose cost and programming are the city’s responsibility.
— Administrative events, which would include a store’s sidewalk sale, an art gallery’s opening event or signings and readings at book stores. Such events could include food and ambient music. The fee would be $25 and no disclosure of budgets or advance plans for the event is required.
The Economic Development Department proposes that the city collect data from events which it sponsors or co-sponsors so that it can analyze their impact. That data would include the number of attendees, whether they are local or not and the city’s direct and indirect costs.
Another event-related proposal that will go before the Council on Monday would make it illegal to interfere with special events. “The proposed Ordinance will prohibit interference, disruption and impeding with special events in the City of West Hollywood, and a violation of this ordinance will be a misdemeanor and enforced by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s personnel,” says the proposal, noting that it was recommended by the Sheriff’s Department, which provides public safety services for the city.
Activities that would violate this recommended ordinance include:
— Deliberately blocking, obstructing or impeding the passage of participants in the special event.
— Deliberately entering or intruding on the physical space assigned or reserved for the special event.
— Dropping, throwing, squirting or propelling any gaseous, liquid, semisolid or solid substance or object toward or among the participants in the event.
— Committing any “willful act for the purpose of delaying the permitted special event or interfering with the participants of the special event.”
Sheriff’s deputies had to deal with several such incidents at last year’s L.A. Pride parade. In one incident, Nir Zilberman, a local merchant known for his provocative behavior at City Council meetings, yelled at and made obscene gestures to Council members on a parade float and attempted to block that float’s movement. Zilberman was handcuffed and removed from the scene. Another incident involved transgender activists who laid down to block the progress of the Pride parade to show their opposition to efforts by CSW to cut back the focus on the transgender community in the annual event.