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LA Pride Festival expands to Santa Monica Blvd but footprint must change

LA Pride Parade

Onlookers watch the LA Pride Parade make its way along Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood in 2018. Photo: Jon Viscott/City of West Hollywood.

WEST HOLLYWOOD — The LA Pride Festival will be expanding from West Hollywood Park to Santa Monica Boulevard this year, but it’s not yet clear how much of the street will be used.

The LA Pride Festival will take place from June 7 to 9.

LA Pride Festival to expand

Christopher Street West, the nonprofit that produces the LA Pride Festival and Parade, wants to enlarge the festival because the area used at West Hollywood Park has been reduced due to construction and additional services in the public space.

Also, last year’s festival was a fiasco. Christopher Street West officials allowed attendance to exceed capacity, and the Los Angeles County Fire Department closed the festival entrance early on Saturday night, which left thousands of people angry. On Sunday afternoon, organizers stopped allowing people into the festival.

LA Pride 2018: History of the parade, hostility from Los Angeles police

$750,000 in expenses, lost revenue

For this year’s festival, organizers and the city’s Economic Development Department created a proposal to close Santa Monica Boulevard between Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard and host a three-day, free festival in Boystown between Robertson and San Vicente boulevards.

No changes will be made to the LA Pride Parade on June 9.

The expanded festival will cost the city about $750,000 in expenses and lost revenue, according to a West Hollywood City Council staff report.

The proposal projects expenses and lost revenue in several areas:

  • $104,000 in waived street closure fees
  • $43,644 in lost parking meter revenue
  • $140,000 in previously allocated city funds for the festival
  • $418,000 in public safety personnel costs

Council reacts to design

The council unanimously approved the expansion idea in a 5-0 vote at its March 18 meeting, but some councilmembers told festival and economic development officials to rethink the footprint of the Pride in the Blvd. festival that would feature vendors, non-profit organizations, and a local artist showcase.

“We have some great urban space on Santa Monica Boulevard. To line it all up in one way and turn its back on so much is not a great plan,” Mayor John D’Amico said.

“I approve of the use of the space, but not the way it’s rendered,” he said. “There has to be a much better way to use the space.”

‘Go back to the drawing board’

Councilman John Duran was more direct with his opinion.

“We need to consider other options,” he said. “Go back to the drawing board.”

Duran had a more favorable reaction to the idea of expanding the LA Pride Festival outside of the park.

Expand the boulevard festival

“We are beginning to see the transition of moving Pride from behind an enclosed fence and into the public right of way,” he said.

Councilwoman Lauren Meister said the Pride in the Blvd. festival should be stretched east of San Vicente Boulevard to include more of the area’s bars and clubs.

Councilman John Heilman said he “wasn’t convinced we should be moving to a full street closure on a long-term basis.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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