City Council Meeting: June 23, 2009

Agenda Item: 8-C


To:                   Mayor and City Council

From:              Andy Agle, Director of Housing and Economic Development

Subject:          Santa Monica Pier Centennial Plans, September 9, 2009 Fireworks and West End Plaque Community Fundraising Program



Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council authorize the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation’s (SMPRC) proposed Fireworks display for September 9, 2009, and the West End Plaque Community Fundraising Program to support the Santa Monica Pier Centennial Celebration.


Executive Summary

On September 9, 2009 the Santa Monica Pier will celebrate 100 years from the grand opening of the Pier in 1909. To celebrate this momentous occasion, the SMPRC requests authorization to host a large-scale public fireworks show launched from three barges in the Santa Monica Bay. The City’s Administrative Instruction (II-4-4) regarding Community Events states that “Fireworks are not permitted as part of an event, even if the fireworks are discharged outside the City limits, unless prior City Council authorization is obtained.”


In addition, the SMPRC seeks Council’s authorization to implement a new “West End” plaque fundraising program, a separate program from the plaque program that was approved by Council on June 24, 2008. The “West End” program seeks to sell approximately 400 2”x5” small commemorative bronze plaques to be placed on the bleachers located at the west end of the Pier. Proceeds from this program would be used to support the Pier Centennial programming. 



On September 9, 2009, the Santa Monica Pier will celebrate 100 years from the opening of the Pier in 1909.   To assist with the planning, oversight and fundraising efforts for the Centennial, a Centennial Celebration Committee was established, consisting of over 30 individual volunteers representing a diverse cross-section of the community who work with the creative inspiration of honorary co-chairs Robert Redford and Joan Baez.  The SMPRC Board of Directors, staff and consultants have worked closely with the committee to create an exciting calendar of events that celebrate the rich history of the Pier. 


The official centennial calendar includes five signature events carefully scheduled to complement a host of new and popular annual Pier events including car shows, movie premieres, the 25th Anniversary of the Twilight Dance Series, 5 and 10k runs, and festivals. The five signature centennial events are:


·        Pier Story – February 18, 2009 – The official launch of the Pier’s new history book, “Santa Monica Pier – A Century on the Last Great Pleasure Pier.”


·        Sideshow @ the Pier – May 16, 2009 – A gathering of variety acts, circus artists, vaudevillians and buskers.


·        Schools-Out! A Celebration for Kids – June 20, 2009 – An event for kids and their families with entertainment, art-making activities, creative workshops, fitness activities, storytelling, dance and musical performances.


·        La Monica Ballroom Redux – July 23, 2009 – An event honoring the 85th anniversary of the historic ballroom with a giant dance floor, big band sets and world-class swing music.


·        September 9, 2009 – the Centennial Day featuring the grand reopening of the Pier, 100 ft. cake and performances culminating with the proposed large-scale fireworks display.




Details of the proposed Fireworks display and West End Plaque Community Fundraising Program are as follows:


Fireworks Event

The SMPRC seeks Council authorization for a fireworks display on September 9, 2009, between the hours of 8pm and 10pm, with a show time not exceeding ˝ hour and consisting of fireworks and pyrotechnics launched from three barges in the Santa Monica Bay.   The fireworks display will serve as the grand finale to the Centennial Celebration. 


The SMPRC received three competitive proposals from qualified companies all demonstrating extensive experience and expertise.  However, one respondent, Pyro Spectacular, had recent experience in Santa Monica having provided the close-proximity pyrotechnics for Pacific Park’s Pacific Wheel launch in 2008.  Pyro Spectacular demonstrated an outstanding commitment to excellent service during the wheel launch and also worked well with all Pier and City staff including the Santa Monica Fire and Police Departments and the Office of Sustainability and the Environment. Pyro Spectacular again commits to addressing environmental considerations connected with its fireworks display. A letter from Pyro Spectacular   is included with this report as Attachment A.  A recommendation to select Pyro Spectacular as the pyrotechnic and fireworks display provider for the Centennial  for an amount not to exceed $150,000 was approved by the SMPRC Board on May 3, 2009.


Commemorative Plaque Fundraising Program

The production, marketing and execution of the Centennial events have been supported by funding from six distinct sources: grants, corporate sponsorship, City funding, merchandise sales, the sale of hand-carved carousel horses, and the sponsorship of 14 historic marker plaques. To date, fundraising efforts have generated $270,000 from corporate sponsorship, grants, plaque sales and donations. This amount does not include funding from the City.


To further support the fundraising efforts and encourage direct community involvement, the SMPRC seeks Council authorization to launch an additional commemorative plaque program consisting of small bronze plaques of approximately 2”x5” on the bleachers at the west end of the Pier.  Each plaque would include text with an approximate maximum of 50 characters and would be evenly spaced along the west face of each row of bleachers.  The total number of plaques would not exceed 400 with the average price for each plaque set at $200.00.   A photo with a rough mock-up representing the plaque placement is included in Attachment B. The plaque program will require review from the Landmarks Commission.


Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

As part of the budget for FY 2008/09 the City provided the SMPRC with a one-time enhancement of $120,000 for Centennial activities.  Authorization of the fireworks display and the “West End” commemorative plaque program will have no additional budget or financial implications for the City. Costs associated with the Pyro Spectacular’s contract and commemorative plaque program will be borne by the SMPRC.



Prepared by: Elana Buegoff, Senior Development Analyst





Forwarded to Council:







Andy Agle, Director

Housing and Economic Development


P. Lamont Ewell

City Manager