With West Hollywood’s official Halloween festivities canceled, the city’s bars, restaurants and businesses have concocted a plan to capitalize on the sprawling costumed crowds that haunt the Rainbow District every Oct. 31 whether the city wants to throw them a party or not.
Coordinated by WeHo’s Chamber of Commerce, the businesses have embarked on a marketing campaign called “The Rise of Halloween” to help promote their individual sales and specials. The campaign features a new website and a listing of events and promotions.
It all started last month, when 20 local establishments wrote City Manager David Wilson to plead for the city’s help in scaring up business after two bone-dry years.
“The idea that you would cancel Halloween for the third year in a row, when all other cities are back to hosting large festivals and signature events, is a gut-punch to us,” the letter reads. “Halloween and Pride help our businesses survive all the other economically poor months of the year. To us, it feels like the City has abandoned the business community and lost touch with what is important.”
After canceling the city’s annual Halloween event during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, City Council decided this past summer during budget discussions to call off this year’s and next year’s event as well, citing safety concerns.
Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne and Councilmembers John D’Amico and Lindsey Horvath voted in favor of canceling them; Mayor Lauren Meister and Councilmember John Erickson voted against. *
The group of businesses asked Wilson to close the streets, to provide security and portable restrooms and offer help with the permitting process. While denying the requests for restrooms and the street closure, Wilson wrote that barricades will be installed along Santa Monica Blvd. to give pedestrians more room to walk, and that extra Sheriff’s deputies and security ambassadors would be on hand over the Halloween weekend.
Additionally, the city is looking at waiving fees for special event permits, including any related encroachment, valet, and building permit fees. City Council will decide whether to authorize this at their meeting Monday night.
*City Hall asked us to reconsider this line. Here was their reasoning:
In fact: The decision not to hold Halloween Carnaval in 2022 was made over the course of many months and involved input and discussion from the entire West Hollywood City Council; the City Council Ad Hoc Events Subcommittee and City Council Finance & Budget Subcommittee; City staff; and community members in providing feedback in comment at public meetings.
Key discussions were as follows:
On December 20, 2021, the West Hollywood City Council received recommendations from the City Council Ad Hoc Events Subcommittee, and it approved proposed modifications to the City’s FY2022-2023 Budgeted Special Events List, which included a recommendation to postpone Halloween Carnaval.
On June 27, 2022, the West Hollywood City Council approved the City’s Operating Budget and Capital Work Plan for Fiscal Years 2022-23 & 2023-24. The West Hollywood City Council approved support for the return of many in-person events. The budget section – highlights of Major City Events – notes that the City Council Events Subcommittee did not recommend including funding for Halloween Carnaval in the budget. Attachment C for the approved budget as part of the staff report that went to the City Council is a full List of Budgeted Special Events.
While the City Council approved the City’s Operating Budget and Capital Work Plan for Fiscal Years 2022-23 & 2023-24 at its regular meeting on Monday, June 27, 2022 in a split 3-2 vote, this vote was cast on the specific motion to approve the Operating Budget and Capital Work Plan. The motion details are included in the meeting minutes (page 28, 29, 30) in this Google Doc – the motion and split vote to approve did not relate to the topic of Budgeted Special Events:
The meeting that determined City Council intent and action regarding FY 2022-23 Budgeted Special Events was the regular meeting of the City Council on Monday, December 20, 2021 – not the meeting of June 27, 2022. Here is a link to the staff report for the December 20 meeting – Ad Hoc Events Subcommittee Recommendations for the FY 2022-23 Budgeted Special Events list:
Page 2 of this staff report includes a line item for Halloween Carnaval with the Subcommittee Recommendation for FY23 (FY 2022-23) and the net budget impact for FY23 as $0 – it was not budgeted to take place in 2022. The City Council vote on this item was unanimous and established the City Council action to accept the Ad Hoc Events Subcommittee’s recommended modifications for the FY 2022-23 Budgeted Special list. Here is a Google Doc with the meeting minutes (scroll to Item 4.D.):
Due to the unanimous approval of the December 20 item by the City Council, the City Manager’s Recommended Operating Budget and Capital Work Plan featured the Council-approved Recommendations (approved unanimously on December 20) for the FY 2022-23 Budgeted Special Events list, which did not include funding for Halloween Carnaval in 2022.