LA Pride 2017 Projected to Cost West Hollywood $1.1 Million

L.A. Pride Parade 2016 (Photo courtesy CSW)

This year’s L.A. Pride festival and its Resist March are likely to cost the City of West Hollywood $1.1 million, an increase of 71% over what the city spent on the event last year.

The projected costs are included in a formal proposal that the city underwrite costs of the event, which in June will be in its 47th year. That proposal will go before the West Hollywood City Council at its meeting on Monday.

A major factor in the cost increase is the June 11 Resist March, which by some estimates could bring as many as 750,000 to West Hollywood, a compact city with about 36,000 residents. Past Pride events have drawn an estimated 125,000 to 210,000 visitors to West Hollywood. The budget for the event that is included in the proposal to the Council projects $924,000 in spending on public safety and traffic control, compared to $594,000 spent last year.

The concept of a Resist March was promoted early this year by Brian Pendleton, a local entrepreneur and supporter of LGBT organizations. Pendleton recently joined the board of directors of Christopher Street West, the non-profit that puts on the annual Pride parade and festival, and CSW announced early this month that is would replace the parade with a Resist March. That march will begin on Hollywood Boulevard at Highland before making its way down Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Similar marches will take place on the same day in major cities around the country. The marches are being organized to protest measures proposed or implemented by President Donald Trump that many see as discriminatory. It will focus on immigrant rights, women’s rights and other issues in addition to LGBT issues.

#resist, resist march, la prideThe Resist March has gotten support from many local institutions including the WeHo Chamber of Commerce, the WeHo City Council, the L.A. LGBT Center and the National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles, and from some local businesses. Owners of other businesses, however, are concerned that they will lose money because of the Resist March. They argue that participants in a protest march aren’t likely to stop at local retailers to shop or to dine or drink at local restaurants and bars. For many in the city’s Boystown nightlife area, the annual Pride event is a major revenue generator. A study commissioned by the city estimated Pride brings in an estimated $5.1 million for local businesses and workers.

The cash-strapped CSW is asking that the city this year cover costs that CSW used to reimburse the city for and waive its advance deposit of $25,000. Last year CSW reimbursed the City of West Hollywood for $80,000 of the $415,000 that the city spent on L.A. County Sheriff’s Department services. This year’s cost is projected to be $600,000. Historically CSW also has reimbursed the city for street sweeping and other maintenance. The city’s Economic Development Department is recommending that CSW’s request that the city waive reimbursements be denied. The city also projects that it will forgo $225,000 in revenue this year from things like parking meters and by waiving certain fees it typically charges.

The cost of Pride to the City of West Hollywood has increased dramatically in recent years. Last year the city spent $659,000 on what turned out to be a highly controversial and money-losing Pride festival and parade, which was 45% more than what it spent in 2015.

CSW, under new management, upset many by recasting the 2016 Pride festival as a music festival aimed at millennials. It ended up losing $396,000 last year and still owes $56,000 to the City of West Hollywood. In an op-ed written for WEHOville, former board member Dan Morin said CSW began this year with only a few hundred dollars in the bank and that its president, Chris Classen, had to pay its office rent himself. In 2015, under its previous management, CSW ended the year with $300,000 in cash. The annual Pride parade, with its corporate sponsors, and the festival, with sponsors and rented booths and admission ticket revenue, is CSW’s only significant source of income.

A new challenge for CSW this year is the reduction in available space for its two-day festival in West Hollywood Park, where construction and redevelopment is underway. The Pacific Design Center has agreed to let CSW lease its plaza on San Vicente Boulevard as it did last year. However the city was unable to get L.A. Metro to let CSW use its bus yard and executive staff parking lot for festival events. The reduction in the number of festival events may mean a reduction in ticket sales ($20 per day in advance this year raising to $25 next month), however that might by offset Resist March participants entering the festival.

The proposal before the City Council does not include any requirement that CSW disclose its finances or the budget for the event. Mayor Lauren Meister asked in July 2016 that city staffers present to the Council a recommendation of measures the city could adopt to require financial transparency from organizations it supported. That recommendation has yet to surface.

Unlike similar Pride organizations in cities such as San Diego and Long Beach, CSW has been reluctant to disclose its finances, including its federal tax returns. Those tax returns are available to the public on request from the Internal Revenue Service and on WEHOville, which has obtained and published CSW’s tax returns for past years. WEHOville also has posted a financial statement showing CSW’s 2016 loss, which CSW’s president denied existed until it was published.


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Lilly Ristic
Guest
Lilly Ristic

Es una gran pena que cambiaran tan drasticamente el tradicional Gay Pride para convertirlo en un negocio politico a un costo mucho mayor que lo que ha sido siempre y perdiendo el sentido de libre expresion y diversion. Me gustaria que muestren evidencias que ese dinero sera distribuido para ayudar causas de la comunidad gay. Me enfadaria que se lo embolsara el tal Brian Pendleton. Al fin y al cabo le estan dando gusto al egolatra homofobico de Trump.

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin

English translation:

It is a great shame that the traditional Gay Pride has changed so drastically to turn it into a political business at a much greater cost than it has ever been and losing the sense of free expression and diversion. I would like to show evidence that the money will be distributed to help the gay community. It would annoy me to have it bagged by this Brian Pendleton. At the end of the day they are liking the homophobic egoolob of Trump.

Donald E Azars
Guest
Donald E Azars

AGAIN I totally support the public demonstration of our demand, need and protest against bigotry as well as acknowledging the supportive groups, companies and individuals. The PRIDE PARADE originally tried to start in 1970 but LAPD killed it. So it moved to West Hollywood and became one of the largest recognized events of its kind in the world along with San Francisco’s similar parade. BUT the festival began to destroy things. While it initially gleaned money or organizations, it made more for area Bars/Clubs who slowly withdrew support/participation in the PRIDE PARADE (with some exceptions). It is now something totally… Read more »

fine7760
Guest

If Resist wants to have a protest they should pay for all the extra security needed. Its common practice, why should they be exempt? If they can’t come up with the money then their Mickey mouse protest should stop at our borders. Furthermore the sheriffs should enforce the law pertaining to blocking the street and limit those who insist on continuing to stay on the sidewalk and adhere to the traffic signals and sheriffs directions. Concerning the so called festival. The MTA was never going to allow CSW to use the Division 7 yard. No only because it’s a working… Read more »

Tom Johnson
Guest
Tom Johnson

I agree with what everyone here has said. I have lived in West Hollywood since 1980. Every year CSW gets worse and worse, the whole spirit of gay pride has been lost, and everything in West Hollywood just gets more congested and unhappy. I’m sorry I am so negative, but all these costs are horrible to both the city and the people entering the festival. We need some financial geniuses to ask the people what they want in this city, not what the politicians and big businesses want who are benefiting from all these overcrowding structures. I have just seen… Read more »

Rob
Guest
Rob

Pride wknd is about us our community our pride parade canceled replaced by a march sounds more like embezzlement no money. No parade.you the csw board need to be audited

Brian Holt
Guest
Brian Holt

CSW CONTINUES TO BE A FREAKING MESS. YEAR AFTER YEAR! SHADY… DRAIN THE SWAMP!

SE
Guest
SE

I get that there is always the possibility of shadiness and selfishness in the planning of these events, but let’s not forget that we are in a CRISIS and action needs to be taken. Trump has already started rolling back protections of LGBTQ people in the workplace, environmental protection is being decimated, and Planned Parenthood is about to be defunded. Stay focused on WHY this march is so necessary – we have lost the luxury of a happy, celebratory parade this year…Let’s make sure we get it back when we have something to celebrate again.

Nir Zilberman
Guest
Nir Zilberman

I agree with you, But $1.1 Million it’s crazy. We can use our money for better causes, MARCHING the streets is FREE. We did it since early 80’s with ZERO money, only passion and love, true love for people. Just because we are on CRISES, doesn’t mean we need to make this MARCH a “show Biz”. let’s get real, since HIV / AIDS in the early 1980’s until today we still dealing with people living with HIV/AIDS some don’t even get the proper services. mental, dental etc. Let’s start there, Should we MARCH ? Absolutely ! but $1.1 Million and… Read more »

Shawn Thompson
Guest
Shawn Thompson

Nice Job Larry with you op/ed on this resist march. And now here it is with a mega price tag. And the pivot to the Mayor is a nice try. But really the mayor is a title in weho not a real postion. The only thing the mayor in weho get’s is to pick the public speakers order, and be in control of the meeting. And that title is chaged once a year. But not many residents know that unfortunately. So who’s to blame for the resist march and the big price tag? Your op/ed sold it hard and here… Read more »

Nir Zilberman
Guest
Nir Zilberman

I agree with you 100%. this city run by 3 council members, or 4, Now… I’m not sure what’s happening to JHON D’AMICO. Those council members are all about money, grid and lot’s of fake smiles. Lauren our Mayor is maybe the ONLY one that have a voice for all of our city residents. She really does care and Money can not buy her votes. please, stop talking about our mayor and talk about those who vote and make the decisions, those who keep spending our money on so much B.S instead on what’s real important. Wake up, people. We… Read more »

Col. Scott Ables
Guest
Col. Scott Ables

Why on earth would anyone with the IQ above that of a fern seen this a total scam. CSW cannot pay its bills from last year and owes the city which will now have to pay hundreds of thousands more for security? CSW should be disolved. It might have done good in the past but I would suspect the roots of the parade and festival are forgotten and the beneficiaries are staffers, promoters and purveyors of over priced beer and watered down drinks. The idiocy of the city hiding behind “pride”, “trump” etc to even allow this charade is beyond… Read more »

nir
Guest
nir

simple. shame.
one more time it’s all about money not love.
does any one remember ACT UP?
We had a voice, we made a different , it was not about money it was about the couse.
OUR VOICE is FREE.
Please stop trying to make everything like it is a show business, we only need to walk and send a message of love and fight for our respect. it’s unbelievable, that so many people make money on OUR PAIN. OUR VOICE.
Enough is Enough.
CSW? Who are we kidding?
They are not no one voice but A MONEY VOICE, Wake UP.

Larry Block
Guest
Larry Block

Sad but true.. Meister was on the subcommittee promising transparency and not sure we have had any transparency. Is the city going to guarantee the funds back to those who pre-paid for their parade float? The loss of our Pride as we know it can be placed on Lauren Meisters back because she is more interested in banning hotels and most commercial enterprises rather then getting to work with CSW early on to craft a Pride would be clear to all. She took the reigns last May and promised an open process. Now what is our choice? It seems like… Read more »

Jason B
Guest
Jason B

I don’t know anything about Brian Pendleton, so I hope this doesn’t come across as a personal attack against the person. But, it should be pointed out that he secured the footprint for the march AT THE COST OF THE PARADE. He’s the organizer of the march in LA, AND he’s on the CSW board. Why why why why why hasn’t there been a meaningful discussion about doing the parade on SATURDAY like they do in other cities including San Diego in addition to doing the march on Sunday. A march was going to happen independent of the fact that… Read more »

Donald Azars
Guest
Donald Azars

TOTALLY AGREE WITH DAN, and btw, if CSW couldn’t afford their rent, what did they do with the surplus from last years Parade/Festival? But this year, the CITY OF WEST HOLLYWOOD needs to cancel the event. It has become too costly and focused on an agenda different then the years of PRIDE.