With LA Pride 2020 six months away, West Hollywood’s City Council unanimously approved expanding the venue’s “footprint” and corresponding road closures during its meeting Monday night. Those closures include a controversial plan to close Santa Monica Boulevard in the Boystown district starting on the Friday morning of Pride weekend.
2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first LA Pride Parade, and Christopher Street West (CSW), the non-profit that produces LA Pride, hopes to make the Pride festivities bigger and better than ever. Thus, CSW wants the larger footprint and more time to set things up.
Under the plan, Santa Monica Boulevard will be closed between Doheny Drive on the west and La Cienega Boulevard on the east starting at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 12 and ending at 5 a.m. on Monday, June 15. This portion of Santa Monica Boulevard will be closed to allow for a free “Pride on the Boulevard” section for booths for vendors and non-profit organizations and food trucks.
The Pride Festival, which has several music stages and requires a paid ticket for admission, will happen in West Hollywood Park and the adjacent San Vicente Boulevard, as it has in the past.
“Pride on the Boulevard” actually will take place on Saturday, June 13 and Sunday, June 14 from noon to 7 p.m. each day, but the Friday street closure is needed to allow for set up of the booths. That same section of Santa Monica Boulevard is closed all day each year on Halloween to allow for set up of the yearly Halloween Carnival.
There were similar Friday road closures on Santa Monica Boulevard in 2019, the first year CSW hosted the free Pride on the Boulevard section. However, in 2019, the eastbound lanes of Santa Monica Boulevard were closed at 10 a.m., while the westbound lanes didn’t close until 7 p.m., something that confused many drivers.
The staggered closure on that Friday eased some of the traffic problems, but there were still massive traffic backups since drivers were diverted to Melrose Avenue or Sunset Boulevard. Traffic was especially heavy that Friday with people coming to town for Pride, as well as the normal traffic of people just trying to get home.
The Council understood the reasons for the 10 a.m. closure, but worried that people living in the areas immediately adjacent to Santa Monica Boulevard will be severely impacted by the Friday closures. Councilmember John Duran noted that people living north of Santa Monica Boulevard on residential streets like Larrabee Street, Palm Avenue or Hancock Avenue would only be able to access their streets via Sunset Boulevard or Holloway Drive.
“I’m really worried about the amount of stress we’re putting on the neighborhood with an all-day closure on Friday,” said Duran.
Councilmember Lindsey Horvarth said she had received numerous phone calls from residents on Pride weekend 2019 who were stuck in traffic due to the closures and didn’t know how to get home.
Because Pride on the Boulevard was so well received in 2019, the number of booths will be expanded in 2020. Jeff Consoletti, whose JJ|LA event production company puts together the event each year for CSW, said there were 55 booths in 2019 and they had received about 100 more applications they were not able to accommodate. Thus in 2020, CSW hopes to expand Pride on the Boulevard a few blocks in each direction beyond Robertson Boulevard on the west and Hancock Avenue on the east, the boundaries in 2019.
As was done in 2019, Pride on the Boulevard will use the south side (eastbound lanes) of Santa Monica Boulevard for the vendor booths and food trucks, while the north side (westbound lanes) will be reserved for the Pride Parade to come through on Pride Sunday. That closure on the north side is needed on Pride Friday to allow space for booth set ups and on Pride Saturday to avoid someone walking on the south side accidently stepping into oncoming traffic.
Along with the expanded footprint, CSW hopes to expand the number of community beer garden areas to six. In 2019, there were two beer gardens – in the parking lot of Koontz Hardware and in the parking lot for the Factory on Robertson. CSW is not sure where the additional beer gardens will be located yet. Mayor John D’Amico suggested contacting local businesses to run the beer gardens.
Even though they are being called “beer gardens,” Consoletti said they hoped to dedicate one of them to a family area and one to an alcohol-free sober area.
The Council also approved closing Robertson Boulevard, La Peer Drive and Almont Drive between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard from 10 a.m. on Friday to 5 a.m. on Monday, the same hours as the Santa Monica Boulevard closure.
The Council also approved CSW hosting a special area on La Peer Drive, although CSW isn’t sure exactly what it will do with the area yet.
As has traditionally been done, San Vicente Boulevard will be closed to traffic beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday and lasting until 10 a.m. on Monday.
For the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 14, the Council approved closing additional portions of Santa Monica Boulevard – from La Cienega to Fairfax Avenue – from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Similarly, portions of Crescent Heights Boulevard, Laurel Avenue, Hayworth Avenue, Norton Avenue and Holloway Drive near Santa Monica Boulevard will be closed that Sunday from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. to allow for parade set up, as always.
The city plans to send out special city-wide mailers advising residents of the road closures.
I thought Pride was so much better last year, and that was due to part of the Blvd being closed and the booths, etc. Once the Weho Park is done, this will not be necessary, I am sure. But for now, it is a great plan. Not sure about the 3 day closure, but sure did think what they did last year with great.
As just seen here by the responders, I am so glad to know that we are not the only ones in West Hollywood that feels this is an inconvenience in a great magnitude. Closing a major highway so the city and vendors can make money off the backs of residents who, again, will sit in unbelievable traffic to accomadate the minority is again not listening to your community’s voice. Again, we will have to clean our yards and streets of human waste and over whelming trash with the city responding to our calls of complaints with the response of “we… Read more »
No!! This is not what all residents want! 3 straight days of major street closures. This event gets more inconvenient for us every year. Been here 11 years. Gets worse every year for this event. The street closures make it unbearable to get around and you want to EXPAND them?!!?! No. We would like a vote on this.
we need to vote on this. this event is NOT supported by all.
In other words, they plan to close down most of the main drag through the City. Good Lord, not everybody and every business celebrates Pride. They need to remember that sometimes!
Agree. Been here 11 years. We should be able to have a say in this.
It happens on a Sunday. Who cares?
Just Sunday would be fine, but they want to close Santa Monica Blvd on Friday and Saturday and Sunday!
Whoa. Wait a minute. Can we put this on the ballot and vote about this? This is crazy talk. We don’t need another full day of street closures. This is a money grab! Please say NO!!!
Agree. We do not all want this. My vote is NO
Why not move the free street portion to the less heavily trafficked portion of Melrose and keep Santa Monica Boulevard opened?
Yes, this is an excellent idea. The festival can run from the park/library on San Vicente and expand onto Melrose. This would have an enormous impact on local stores too. Will the 24 Hour Fitness and Trader Joe’s close for three days? It’s almost impossible to get into Pavillions with these closures. Ugh. I used to throw parties on Pride Sunday; now I will need to flee town for three nights.
Closing a major thoroughfare for three days including a weekday? Really? This is out of control.