A City Council discussion about the future of pier management took a detour on July 14 when two residents took to the microphone to criticize the Twilight Concert Series.

At the meeting, Council had been asked to extend the current terms for the interim Pier Corporation board, begin negotiations for a new service agreement with Pier Corp, set a date for appointing new board members and debate the addition of a pier tenant to the board.

The Pier Corporation is a non-profit board that oversees operations at the Pier with a focus on events, marketing and fundraising. They have been responsible for developing a Pier Vision Statement and Guiding Principles, making recommendations regarding Pier governance, preparing Pier leasing guidelines and assisting the City with a Pier planning process and public outreach. Pier Corp specifically oversees the Twilight Concert Series.

Three individuals spoke on the issue and two used their time to slam the Thursday night concerts.

“I don’t know about the structure of the Pier Committee. I just wanted to talk about the effect on Ocean Park,” said Mary Marlow. “I guess I question the effectiveness of what’s going on with the whole Pier Committee. That the music is so loud that you hear it eight blocks away. I think that’s a problem for my whole neighborhood.”

Resident Ellen Brennan said the current state of activity around TCS should disqualify all current board members from future participation on the board.

“They’ve attempted to turn the Pier into a hotspot on the West Coast for headliner bands,” she said.

Brennan said the “large groups of while males” that hang out in the chess park, near Hot Dog on a Stick and in a nearby parking lot were a sign of “trouble just around the corner.”

“As my neighbor pointed out, if this pier continues to offer headliners and free concerts when the light rail comes to Santa Monica, all of East Los Angeles will take the light rail and come to these concerts,” she said. “Now there’s a thought to give the Chief of Police nightmares.”

In reference to the criticism of TCS, Mayor McKeown said the shows were retooled during the recession and could perhaps be retooled again to fit the current economy.

“We moved from a concert series that was a carefully curated series of world music type acts that had a real cultural focus to something that, frankly, is a big more sponsor driven to bring in people and that’s meant a change in who’s playing at the Pier and it has meant a change in some extent in who comes to the Pier.”

Councilwoman Pam O’Connor said the kinds of acts will change over time as cultural tastes change. She said the shows should reflect the diverse audience. “We are wide and multigenerational,” she said.

Several councilmembers said the music didn’t appear offensively loud on the Pier and Pier Manager Rod Merl said the new stage that debuted this year might have contributed to noise in neighborhoods. He said additional sound dampening would be added as the season progressed.

Councilwoman Gleam Davis made the motion to accept staff recommendations and said the Board was doing what was asked.

“We gave them certain tasks to do and they did them, and they did them very well. In fact the thing was they did them too well.”

She said some of the marketing proposals have proven too powerful a draw and as the Council has requested additional work of the board, it makes sense to allow them more time.

The only speaker to address the actual agenda item was Chris Volaski, president of the Pier Tenants’ Association. She reiterated the tenants’ desire for a non-voting seat on the Corporation Board as a way to facilitate the flow of information. Volaski’s family owns Pier Bait and Tackle.

Council approved research into a non-voting seat on the board, but were warned by the City Attorney that a California law currently forbids the presence of a non-voting member on a non-profit board. Staff said they would explore options for facilitating the staff recommendation.

editor@www.smdp.com

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...

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