WeHo City Council Agrees to Cover $1 Million in Security Costs for LA Pride

christopher street west, la pride, west hollywood
LA Pride Parade (Photo courtesy of Visit West Hollywood)

West Hollywood’s City Council unanimously agreed Monday night to pay almost $1 million in security costs for this year’s L.A. Pride festival and the accompanying Resist March.

“Freedom costs a lot,” said Councilmember John D’Amico. “It does cost $1 million for what we are about to embark on. There’s no other choice, we want to do this march. We are a city that believes in exactly what this march and this festival and Christopher Street West represents. We want to do it. Since we want to do it, we need to pay the cost of doing it, the cost that we would pay which is public safety.”

The Resist March will replace the June 11 L.A. Pride parade, which would have been in its 47th year. This year’s L.A. Pride festival will continue, on June 10 and 11, in West Hollywood Park. A free transgender event will take place in the park on June 9, while the separate Dyke March also will happen that day, leaving from the Sal Guarriello Veteran’s fountain on Santa Monica Boulevard at Holloway Street.

Resist Marches are scheduled in U.S. cities nationwide for June 11, similar to the giant Women’s Marches that took place in dozens of cities across America on Jan. 21. The Resist March will start at 8 a.m., stepping off from Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in Los Angeles because there is a subway station there allowing participants to arrive by mass transit. The march will follow a 3.1 mile path down La Brea Avenue, turning onto Santa Monica Boulevard and ending at La Peer Drive, a few blocks west of the entrance to the pride festival on San Vicente Boulevard. An estimated 250,000 to 500,000 people are expected to participate in the march.

Between the expanded route of the march (the parade normally just goes down Santa Monica Boulevard from Crescent Heights Boulevard to San Vicente Boulevard) and tightened security following worldwide terrorist threats and last year’s massacre at Orlando’s Pulse LGBT nightclub, public safety costs have skyrocketed.

A report shows the city spent $445,000 in 2015 for public safety-related costs, including the sheriff, fire and medical personnel as well as traffic control at the Pride festival and along the parade route. That figure increased to $659,000 in 2016, but is expected to be $989,000 in 2017.

“I think that it’s worth it for us to invest to insure that Pride stays here, particularly in a public safety component,” said Councilmember Lindsey Horvath. “Last year alone, the city spent almost twice as much on Halloween as it did on Pride. I think that Pride is really key to our community and who we are.”

D’Amico added, “This is really about who we are and for anyone who reads the news and even those who don’t, you can hear every day ways in which we are being attacked and the things we must resist. Even if we are only preaching to the choir, sometimes the choir needs to be preached to as well.”

West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station Captain Sergio Aloma told the council he and his staff are working with the Los Angeles Police Department to coordinate security and that the City of Los Angeles is covering security costs for the Los Angeles portion of the Resist March.

In years past, the city has required Christopher Street (CSW), the nonprofit which puts on the annual L.A. Pride festival, to pay $80,000 of the security costs. However, the Council agreed last night to consider waiving that $80,000 fee if CSW provides a detailed report about its finances, something many community members have been demanding for months.

CSW lost $396,000 on last year’s Pride events and still owes the City of West Hollywood $58,000. However, the Council also agreed to discuss waiving that $58,000 sometime this summer, after the Pride festival is over. Additionally, the council agreed to a three-year deal with CSW to keep the Pride festival in West Hollywood.

The city is requiring CSW in increase the insurance coverage it carries for the Pride festival from $5 million in 2016 to $10 million this year. Chris Classen, CSW board president, reported last year that CSW paid $55,000 for insurance and expect that figure to rise 35 to 40% this year.

Classen told the council that CSW paid approximately $100,000 for airport-style metal detectors to screen people entering the Pride festival last year and expects to pay that much this year.

This year’s Pride festival will be downsized due to the three-year construction project that began in January, which has closed off a significant portion of West Hollywood Park. As a result, CSW is losing almost 70% of the “footprint” it had available in 2016. This year, only West Hollywood Park’s great lawn and the auditorium, plus San Vicente Boulevard between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, are available for the Pride festival.

#resist, resist march, la prideThe city has arranged for the Pride festival to use the courtyard at the adjacent Pacific Design Center (PDC) this year. The city’s arrangement covers the cost of rent on the PDC courtyard, but CSW will have to pay the $35,000-$40,000 cost for “decking” (covering) the giant water fountain in the PDC courtyard.

Brian Pendleton, a CSW board member and head of the Resist March, told the Council that CSW plans to set up a giant stage on Santa Monica Boulevard at La Peer Drive. Video screens will be set up all along Santa Monica Boulevard from La Peer to La Cienega Boulevard so that march participants can hear speeches. Classen said they will also have video screens set up inside the festival grounds.

Classen told the council the Resist March is a good idea since it allows more people to participate rather than just observe a parade from the sidewalks.

“It’s really a time that people can come out and show the world how colorful we are as a community and not just watch from the sidewalk, but to really participate and make it your own,” Classen said.

Pendleton added that everyone is invited to participate in the march, which will represent not just LGBT rights, but women’s rights, minority rights and immigrants’ rights.

A breakdown of the $989,000 the city will pay in security costs includes $600,000 to the sheriff’s department ($200,000 for the festival, $400,000 for the march), $224,000 to the fire department ($160,000 for festival, $64,000 for march), $100,000 for traffic control ($18,000 for festival, $82,000 for march) and $65,000 for the medical tent at the festival.

The city also will incur an additional $75,000 in other expenses including the annual mayor’s reception ($10,000), the free transgender event on Friday on the festival grounds ($15,000), a citywide mailer about the festival and march and One City One Pride related events ($20,000), and park/facilities costs ($30,000). Additionally, the city will waive $225,000 in fees related to use of the park and loss of revenue.

CSW also has agreed to promote the city’s many One City One Pride events happening throughout June on the L.A. Pride website.


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jeffery ward
Guest
jeffery ward

D’Amico is correct, even the choir needs preaching too! I am glad we finally have more information, I am glad they didn’t extend south of Melrose, away from Boystown, I am glad they extended to LaPeer and are going to have a stage and screens and audio up and down Santa Monica, I am glad we can all make plans now! I understand the extra costs, we have more street closures, we have more threats, and we have a smaller place meaning tighter crowds, I think we all should Welcome Captain Sergio Alomo by cooperating and making this a huge… Read more »

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

Yes. Everyone I’ve talked to or heard commenting as they see the “Resist” stuff at Abbey or at other businesses like Block Party is that they are going to Long Beach Pride instead of West Hollywood. The weekend will be full of self-appointed speeches, yelling, helter-skelter bashing of this and that – and likely tons of imports wanting to get on the news by wrecking stuff. Every generation seems to need, maybe even deserves, at least one aggressive angry public protest. Perhaps the natural law.

Randy
Guest
Randy

CSW is in the business (non-profit) for producing Pride. Yes, improvements are needed. And the city should push its weight, and make sure positive changes are made, going forward, considering the cost to the city. I think it is impractical for the city itself to organize this event. If CSW doesn’t improve, perhaps they should look at finding another organization to do it. If they go that route, it might have to be re-titled and/or re-branded as something other than “LA Pride.” But I do believe the event should stay in West Hollywood, and I applaud the city for not… Read more »

Jimmy Palmieri
Guest

Great news!!!!! I can’t wait to be part of this history making event. I am so grateful that I live in a city that can host such a major happening, and be able to afford to provide the best safety and care for its residents! Great to see you covering council again James!

JH Dowling
Guest
JH Dowling

This sucks! Attendance at the event will most definitely be down this year. I guess if you want your Pride Parade “fix” you’ll have to attend Long Beach Pride on May 21st.

carleton cronin
Guest
carleton cronin

Will that be before or after sidewalk and street repairs?

Donald Azars
Guest
Donald Azars

It’s difficult to complain about this needlessly LARGE expense when many of us see this years activities as an anti-Trump/anti-GOP Congress expression. BUT the City and CSW needs to re-define, re-propose and re-assess the value of the money our City contributes, the ever growing fees they charge the public and the amount that organizations MAY receive afterwards. Added to that is the HUGE PROFITS that Bars/Clubs get over the weekend without contributing to the “cause” the Festival/Parade represent.

Todd Bianco
Guest

While this is alll well and good, each year I can’t understand why the City continues to go along with CSW, giving them another chance. Then another. Then another. The reward? A three-year agreement for CSW to say in West Hollywood. I say let them go and find someone else to run a Pride event in West Hollywood. If CSW wants to take their show elsewhere, I wish them luck getting the City of LA or any other city to cover so many costs. (I hope the Cohen Bros/PDC are throwing in the rental of the courtyard as a gift… Read more »