City Council Agrees to a 50% Increase in Subsidy for the 2020 LA Pride

Pride on the Boulevard 2019

With the 50th anniversary of LA Pride coming in June, West Hollywood’s City Council voted 4-1 on Monday night to spend $3 million on the event, some $1 million more than it spent on LA Pride in 2019.

With the city covering costs for security, traffic control, parking enforcement, and a massive mailing announcing road closures, the $3,012,576 is the largest amount the city has ever spent on LA Pride. In 2019, the city spent $2,088,442.

The increased costs are primarily due to public safety and build-up costs for the expanded “Pride on the Boulevard” portion of the LA Pride festival which will see Santa Monica Boulevard closed from Doheny Drive to La Cienega Boulevard for the entire Pride weekend, which is June 12-14. This free “Pride on the Boulevard” section will be for booths for vendors and non-profit organizations and food trucks.

Last year, for the first time, the LA Pride festival expanded beyond the boundaries of West Hollywood Park and the adjoining San Vicente Boulevard for “Pride on the Boulevard.” With that Pride of the Boulevard section proving wildly successful, this year Pride on the Boulevard will more than triple in size, which accounts significantly for the increased security costs.

The breakdown of the of the $3 million the city will contribute to this year’s Pride is $2.4 million for public safety, $200,000 for traffic control, $30,000 for parking enforcement, $115,000 for rental of the Pacific Design Center courtyard and $200,000 for the Pride on the Boulevard build-up/break-down, toilet rentals and janitorial services. Additionally, the city will spend $30,000 on a citywide mailer informing residents of road closures and events related to Pride.

The $2.4 million public safety cost covers not only sheriff’s department personnel (which accounts for $1.4 million of the cost), but also fire department personnel, emergency medical services (EMS) personnel and a medical tent.

Mayor John D’Amico cast the only dissenting vote, saying it felt “uncomfortable” and “a little vulgar” to spend $3 million on the event.

“I’m just not convinced that paying 50% more [this year] is going to make this event 50% better,” said D’Amico.

D’Amico said a slight increase in costs, say 10% more, might be appropriate, but felt 50% was just too high. He said that amounts to almost $100 per WeHo resident, or $40 per Pride attendee, money that could be used for other services.

The other councilmembers were OK with the costs, Councilmember Lauren Meister saying, “Public safety should be our number one concern.”

Councilmember John Duran noted that West Hollywood is a tiny city that hosts one of the largest Pride events in the country, thus the costs are justified.

“The $3 million we’re being asked to contribute is immeasurable in terms of where we position West Hollywood in the communities of Southern California and how we position LGBT people where we are at this current time in our movement,” said Duran.

2019 LA Pride Sizzle sober event

Councilmember Lindsey Horvath noted the city hires a producer to put on the annual Halloween Carnival with minimal community input and could do the same thing with Pride. However, she said the city and Christopher Street West, the non-profit which puts on LA Pride, actively seek community input which is what makes Pride so special.

“What Pride has is a spirit and a soul and a community connection because of the [community input],” said Horvath.

During the public comment period, residents seemed fine with the increased costs.

Resident Steve Martin said that LA Pride is the most famous event the city hosts and it is imperative the city protect the event, and the city’s reputation, by paying for public safety costs.

Meanwhile, resident Larry Block, who owns the Block Party clothing and gay memorabilia store in Boystown, noted there is “no cost too high for public safety.” He reminded that pedestrian activity in Westwood Village dropped drastically after a 1988 shooting there and said he would hate for something similar to happen in Boystown.

While the Council approved the $3 million amount, it declined to pay $40,000 for certain things including the cost of a transgender brunch, an alternate parking area during Pride for employees of the Metro bus terminal and the costs to dismantle the basketball court area in WeHo Park while LA Pride uses it for the festival grounds.

As Councilmember John Heilman explained, the city should not be involved in things related to the programming of the festival like the trans brunch or paying for an alternative place for Metro employees to park, something Metro should pay for. However, Heilman was fine covering costs the city would normally cover like safety and traffic.

The city’s contribution to LA Pride has been steadily increasing in the past five years. In 2015, the city paid about $500,000. In 2016, that figured increased to about $660,000. However, in 2017, the year the Pride parade was cancelled in favor of the #Resist March, the figure jumped to $1 million. In 2018, the amount was $1.2 million and in 2019, it jumped again to $2 million.

  1. Pride is sad – sudden cover charges at most places, increased drink prices, smaller portions and overall gouging of attendees – doesn’t seem very supportive of the community AND for those that do chose to go the “Festival/Carnival” – How about giving the people who have to deal with the inconvenience of streets closures, drunk people peeing/puking on their property and the trash all over the side streets from this event (and Halloween) free admission – it’s the LEAST the City could do.

  2. It’s ridiculous to close Santa Monica Blvd for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, completely screwing those of us who live nearby. I can see Saturday and Sunday, but Friday too? Ugh.

    1. It’s only one extra day. I get it is inconvenient but it’s one of the things you have to live with when you live in West Hollywood. It’s a city that that has what it has because of attractions and entertainment. On one of these post someone said that nobody in the city goes to Pride. If that is the case then all those people out there are coming into Weho and are spending money!!

  3. It’s the 50th anniversary so it should be an extra special event. We are also fortunate to live in a city that in decent financial condition so we can afford to pay for it without cutting anything. Also the festival creates business for the city that turns into tax revenue.

  4. Seems ridiculous how much it costs unless the city makes a return on this investment, if not, then it needs to stop this event altogether. At some point economics come into play; perhaps a smaller, intimate/focused event with more amenities is better. We used to find out about this by word of mouth, it was an organic movement. If it’s really worth going to, people find out and show up without a mailer. Doesn’t the city run this event at a loss every year? So basically this is a pet project at this point.

    All for pride, but not for absurdity or “vulgar” expenses without a reasonable return. I realize you can’t calculate emotional return, fun, etc. which does have value. But it seems like the ones really making out like bandits is security employees with higher paychecks. How do the residents directly benefit if most don’t attend? How much business does it generate for hotels, restaurants, etc. since it’s only 2 days for the most part? I get the point of doing things for it’s emotional value but not if it continues to lose money every year. Is it going to be better this year? No, just more expensive. So, it’s a really irresponsible used of funds.

  5. We need to remember that this is going to be a tough year for the event given that West Hollywood Park is under construction and there was a need for additional street closures. But in 2021 the park should be completed and the City could consider a reduction in the municipal contribution. But its Pride’s 50th Anniversary and we should be fully supportive to insure this is a spectacular event. Signature events don’t come cheap but the current CSW Board is professional, hardworking, diverse and does it’s best to be responsive to the needs of the community; the members are also volunteers who appreciate our monetary support. Given the last few years of unrelenting negative press, CSW provides West Hollywood with a much needed boost to our City’s reputation and provides a positive showcase for our residents and our community.

  6. It’s painful to listen to D’Amico (or any politician) justify a no vote on little more than some unquantifiable gut feeling which appears to be based on zero legitimate analysis or inquiry. The city should either be in or be out, and if the choice is in, then Meister (as always) got it right by saying “Public safety should be our number one concern.” I’m happy to see four of the five on the side of public safety. I personally find nothing “vulgar” in keeping people safe.

    1. You missed his point Alan. He was not suggesting that it’s “vulgar” to keep people safe, he was referring to the the event tripling in size and therefore costing more money to protect.

      1. Which he was supportive of just a few months ago when he approved the foot print and was also aware of the cost increases in that staff report. He’s just being contrarian per usual.

      2. Thanks, but I quite comprehended the words in the article. Further, if it were just about tripling in size, I’d find a mere 50% increase in costs to be quite a value.

        1. Oh ok, it didn’t sound like you comprehended the context of “vulgar” from reading the article. But looks like now you do, and have formulated a better argument. The Mayor’s words are also quoted in the article as saying “I’m just not convinced that paying 50% more [this year] is going to make this event 50% better.”

  7. outrageous. most residents do not attend this event or benefit from it in any way. should provide police and clean up only.

    1. If you live in WeHo, you should expect this to be a part of your experience. I lived on Larrabee for 5 years, right behind it all (I don’t live in the thick of it all, anymore). I knew what I was moving into. And yes, it benefits us all. Increase in tourism, which results in increase in tax revenue, which trickles down to benefits for city residents. This includes a world-class park being built, services for seniors, free public transportation, arts programs, etc.. This isn’t just about local businesses making money. This is a self-sustaining event, as far as the City is involved, as far as I understand it. If you can’t stand this event for 60 hours a year, please, go to PS for the weekend, or Laguna Beach, or Hawaii, or just stay with a friend across town. Or, if your streets are affected, consider walking or biking out of your neighborhood, if you feel “trapped.” It is not like we don’t all know that this happens each and every year. I’m very proud to have this part of our city, and our culture, and I never want it to go away. It is one of the very reasons I live in this neighborhood. And it is for many others.

      1. We understand your point……however I’m quite certain that if residents were polled they would not approve expanding this event. In fact, most would support moving it to a part of the city better equipped to handle it. West Hollywood is not a gay or straight city. That’s not the role of government. I’m prepared to spend my own money to support a candidate to focus only on basic services….and remove those embarrassing members of the city council.

        1. This city was *founded* on LGBTQ rights (amongst many other things). That *is* part of the role of the government. Yeah, only 40% of the population identify as such, but I believe that is more than any other city in our nation. Did you not know this when you moved here? Or do you even live here? I’m extremely proud to live in this city, and will always support it as a host for this festival. Bring it on. Make it bigger. Live in Pride.

  8. The cost is getting ridiculous. We can celebrate being proud without spending $3million dollars a year. Think what that money could do to help those with substance abuse, mental health issues and homelessness that dot our city sidewalks, parks and vacant store fronts. (tip: one way to save money…really secure our medians so the plantings don’t get crushed and have to be replaced. Every year a single plastic mesh is put up and toppled over. And each year we spend money to replant these areas. Get wise and do a better job of blocking off those areas to Pride goers – this also goes for Halloween).

    1. I’m with you on this one. This money could be put to better use. Wonder how much they will vote through next year. And so it goes…….

    2. Correct decision by Mayor D”Amico.
      Too much emphasis on the concept of Public Safety.

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