Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

SM City Council Moves 2018 Pier #TwilightConcert Series to After Labor Day

Hoping to reduce the monster crowds at the popular Pier event

 

December 15, 2017

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Crowd at the most recent Santa Monica Twilight Pier Concert Series on August 18, 2017

Really, you can blame Khalid for this one. After 60,000 people came to see Khalid perform on June 22, 2017, the rapper tweeted:

"Around 60,000 people came out to Santa Monica to see me last night at the free show. The Staples Center holds 21,000 people. Holy f*ck."

Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks apparently said pretty much the same thing. She (and others) complained to the Staff and Council and it was decided that something must be done.

Seabrooks estimated that the full pier deck (which has a near-7,500 person capacity depending on configuration), combined with some 40,000 to 50,000 attendees on the surrounding beach, meant Thursday's concert was a record crowd.

"With 50,000 people in a small footprint, it only takes one person to do something sideways that has the ability to impact the city of Santa Monica and the surrounding community for years to come," Seabrooks told the Daily Press. "I am concerned in my professional capacity, this has gone way beyond the capabilities of Santa Monica Police Department and its law enforcement partners and EMS partners..."

Los Angeles County has ten million people. When an event is free and accessible by public transport, it's common for it to be overwhelmed like this. In 2014, the Santa Monica City Council began raising concerns about the series' growing crowd size.

"As the spillover crowds from the TCS grew in size on Santa Monica State Beach, so did the related public safety and maintenance issues," a 2014 motion states. "Concert budgets included additional private security and a limited number of Police Officers to manage the crowds on the beach. As the numbers averaged about 15,000 per event in 2013, with single events as high as 20,000 to 30,000, and approximately 2/3 of concert attendees on the beach south of the Pier, it became apparent that more public safety personnel and more infrastructure was needed."

Anyway, the City issued this press release 12/13/17:

Council Directs Santa Monica Pier Corporation to Move Twilight Concert Series to Fall 2018

Council asks Pier Corporation to move series to after Labor Day to reduce crowd size and work with City staff on improving public safety

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – On December 12, 2017, the Santa Monica City Council directed the Santa Monica Pier Corporation move the Twilight Concert Series to after Labor Day in 2018 and take other measures to reduce crowd size. After 33 years of free summer concerts at the Santa Monica Pier, the Twilight Concert Series has grown significantly bringing crowds of tens of thousands and filling the beach below the pier deck.

"The Twilight Concert Series is without a doubt one of the most admired events in Santa Monica, but we need to re-imagine it to ensure the safety of those attending," said Mayor Ted Winterer. "The Council supports the continuation of the Twilight Concerts if the Pier Corporation is able to reduce crowd size."

Council directed the Santa Monica Pier Corporation to collaborate with City staff with the following motion that was approved in a 7-0 vote:

Retain the original spirit of the Twilight Concert Series by limiting attendance to primarily the Pier Deck through a re-imagined, cultural-oriented series of no more than six events starting after Labor Day.

Give City Staff authority to achieve these goals through consideration of the options outlined in the Staff Report, including: add a no-fee ticketing system to prevent overcrowding and provide a more accurate count of expected attendees; remove all speakers that project towards the beach; reduce the size and prominence of the stage; relocate the stage so it is not visible from the beach; change the day of the week the series is held; book performers whose draw aligns with a small-sized venue; screen the Newcomb lot on the south side of the Pier to remove views from the sand; among other ideas the Pier Corporation may define.

Limit public safety costs to no more than $400,000 for public safety for the 2018 events, with the authority to suspend the series if this allocation is exhausted prior to the conclusion of the series of events.

Additionally, staff is directed to engage outside resources to develop an assessment, drawing on other places that host larger scale beach events, including exploring fixed infrastructure needed to provide security for larger scale events.

Council voted to approve the Santa Monica Pier Corporation's FY 2017-18 Budget and Work Plan by a 7-0 vote and approved the update to the Pier Corporation's bylaws by a 7-0 vote. The work plan includes continuation of several other marquee programs at the Santa Monica Pier, including Front Porch Cinema, Paddleboard Race & Ocean Festival, STEAM Machines, LA Opera, among other arts and education programming. The Pier Corporation also plans to collaborate with the City's Office of Pier Management and Office of Emergency Management to update the existing Emergency Action Plan for the Pier.

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Crowd of 60,000 at the SM Pier Twilight Concert Series on June 22, 2017

"We can have safe, inclusive, diverse events on the Pier, but we can't do it when it spills out over the beach at night," said City Manager Rick Cole. "We look forward to working with the Pier Corporation's new executive director as a partner in reimagining the scale and scope of Twilight Concerts," said City Manager Rick Cole.

According to a December 12, 2017 Staff Report on the Twilight Concert Series and Pier Corporation Budget, Work Plan, and Bylaws, the City's costs for the 2017 Twilight Concert Series were in excess of $1 million, primarily for public safety personnel and staffing. The size of the crowds on the beach required the assistance of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, as well as other allied agencies to fully staff each concert, and exceeded the allocated budget from City Council by $400,000.

 

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