WeHo City Council Looks for New Locations for LA Pride Festival

The City Council last night instructed city staffers to explore the possibility of further subsidizing the financially troubled Christopher Street West (CSW) and guaranteeing CSW access to city streets and West Hollywood Park for its annual L.A. Pride events through 2019.

It also asked city staffers to take steps to keep the Pride festival off Melrose Avenue by negotiating with the Pacific Design Center (PDC) and the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) to see if CSW could use their properties for festival events. As much as 55% of the West Hollywood Park area typically used for the festival will be closed during its redevelopment. Metro owns the bus depot property on Santa Monica Boulevard near San Vicente and the PDC has a large plaza on San Vicente Boulevard.

Mayor Lauren Meister expressed concern about committing to a three-year relationship with CSW, which continues to be engaged in controversy. “I think we should hold off on that. I am not feeling confident now about the leadership of CSW to do that,” Meister said.

Five of CSW’s board members resigned recently, complaining about being forced to sign a document that would bar them in perpetuity from revealing issues with the non-profit organization. According to one of the board members, CSW at the first of the year had only hundreds of dollars in the bank and was unable to pay its January rent at the PDC. WEHOville revealed last year that CSW lost $395,000 on last year’s L.A. Pride. CSW, however, refuses to make public its IRS tax returns, which can be obtained directly from the IRS or on WEHOville. The City Council last July instructed city staffers to develop requirements for financial disclosure from non-profits which receive city services or benefits. Apparently those requirements won’t be presented until March.

Councilmember Lindsey Horvath supported making a three-year commitment to CSW. She noted that it has “challenges in the community” but said the City Council should not tell CSW how to manage itself. Horvath also suggested the city consider further subsidizing CSW by covering $80,000 of its costs for public safety services. In 2015 the Pride parade and festival cost the city almost $600,000 in public safety service, lost revenue from parking and sponsorship of a party and a television broadcast. A study by a city consultant said the annual June event generates as much as $5 million in revenue for local businesses and workers, more than twice as much as generated by the one-night Halloween Carnaval.

Residents of West Hollywood West, the neighborhood bounded by Melrose Avenue on the north, have objected to plans for CSW to close Melrose from Huntley Drive to Robertson Boulevard for the Pride festival. They mentioned past problems with noise from the festival, which includes many bands and singers, and parking in their neighborhood along with public urination and vomiting by drunken festival attendees.

While the council’s discussion was about closing part of Melrose for the festival, Craig Bowers, CSW’s most influential board member, told WEHOville last week that that was not under consideration. “We are not shifting the Festival to Melrose Ave.,” Bowers said in an email. “More precisely we have asked to use the space at the intersection of Melrose and San Vicente for the Festival.”

Council members also voiced their support for a proposed protest march on June 11, the Sunday on which the Pride parade is scheduled. That march is being organized by Brian Pendleton, a major donor to local LGBT organizations. Councilmember John Duran revealed in his comments that the plan is to begin that march at the intersection of Highland Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard and continue it to La Brea Avenue. At that point the march would turn south and enter Santa Monica Boulevard, continuing through West Hollywood.

Duran said the march “may bring hundreds of thousands of people to the city.” He said residents should be aware that “the entire city will be gridlocked on that Sunday from La Brea to Doheny. “


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David Reid
Guest

Randy, yes, Poinsettia is in LA, however WeHo pays a considerable amount of coin each year to subsidize programs there. And with tennis courts, basketball, the open fields and the area south of the recreation building add more space. It is not near the bars of Boystown, but is the event about boozing it up? Or is it about community interaction. Pan Pacific Park, city of LA, is another large area that could host such an event. but just think, in ten year, when West Hollywood (Pride) Park is completed there will be events five stories high around the swimming… Read more »

Randy
Guest
Randy

David, Poinsettia is in Los Angeles. And that space isn’t big enough for this event. Not to mention it is right across the street from people’s homes, unlike West Hollywood Park. The same goes for Plummer Park. Too many residents would oppose an event of that scale to be right across the street from them. I think West Hollywood Park is just fine, if they can also get some space from the PDC and/or the MTA. I remember one year, before the red building was built, they used a parking lot where it stands now. They put Erotic City out… Read more »

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

Another failure of the year of Meister.. she was the one working with CSW to make sure Pride was on track. She is the Mayor and the liaison to the CSW subcommittee. How very sad that in Meister’s first year as Mayor there won’t be a Pride Parade.

David Reid
Guest

Put Pride in Poinsettia. March from Hollywood / Highland to Poinsettia. Parking at The Avalon and The Lot west parking structure. Tennis Courts, Basketball courts.

Randy
Guest
Randy

I’ve never understood why the plaza in front of the PDC hasn’t been used. There is even a mini-amphitheatre set up there. They use it for major events, such as Oscar parties.

Perhaps they are afraid it will get too torn up. But it seems like great event space to me.

And how about closing part of Robertson? They’ve talked about doing that before, for non-Pride events. Can’t they use some of that space once a year? I would think the local businesses would be OK with it.

AGR
Guest
AGR

Alison, West Hollywood West is not special. WHW (and residents to the North) suffer the chaos and damage Pride and Halloween events bring.

The City doesn’t clean the garbage, broken glass, vomit, and crap in the neighborhood left behind where attendees park. There is damage to property and planting that are broken or killed intentionally. Pride and the City doesn’t reimburse that. Residents are left to deal with it.

Alison
Guest
Alison

WHY does the City continue to support CSW? They have shown they are not trustworthy. Why should the City continue to subsidize an organization that can’t even pay their bills, to put on the parade and festival which loses money and makes their employees sign non-disclosure agreements. What are they hiding? Until they are completely open and change leadership, the City shouldn’t give them a dime or back them in any way. Why does the Council keep kowtowing to WHW? Why are they special? Every time they complain about something, they get their way. Is it because Mayor Meister lives… Read more »

AGR
Guest
AGR

Thank god Council voted against it! The sound would travel between the PDC Blue & Catch restaurant buildings, then bounce between the other tall buildings on Beverly Blvd — Sofitel, Beverly Center and former ICM building — covering WHW residents with non-stop chatter noise from thousands of people and pounding music. The Factory (when their windows are open) is a prime example of noise bouncing off Beverly Blvd buildings then back into the neighborhood. Festive goers leave vomit, urine, even feces on residential property/sidewalks, human #2 deposits were left (3x) on sidewalks, a wall on a resident’s property, and one… Read more »

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

So, the residents of WHW DON’T experience those problems annually, anyway? I think they do.

fine7760
Guest

Why is it so hard for WeHoville to refer to the MTA property by it’s correct name? It’s not a bus terminal it’s a bus Division, Division 7. There is a big sign out in front of it with that designation. I doubt the MTA will allow CSW to use any of the facility except maybe the San Vicente Bl. access road. It’s a working division even on the week-end with buses traveling around the yard for staging and maintenance including fueling. The PDC was lucky when they were allowed to use a small portion of the yard to access… Read more »

Nir Zilberman
Guest
Nir Zilberman

Simple, Enough is Enough.
I agree with our Mayor Lauren Meister, most of us lost trust and respect to CSW.
Time to say Good Bye.
We are better and smarter people.