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Spending for the Santa Monica Pier to Jump in Anticipation of New Crowds
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
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Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

July 14, 2016 -- Entering its 107th year as Santa Monica’s top tourist attraction, the Pier is hiking spending by double digits as operators prepare for crowds from the new Expo Line downtown, the Colorado Esplanade and the re-opening of the famed California Incline.

Welcoming more tourists to the Pier is among the costs driving a 16 percent hike in the Santa Monica Pier Corporation’s $2.14 million budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

The Pier’s board signed off on the proposed budget on April 25. The City Council gave final approval Tuesday.

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With new tourists pouring in, one of the Pier’s “biggest tasks will be analyzing their effects and adapting strategies to ensure the best visitor experience,” according to the work plan submitted with the proposed budget to the Council by Pier officials.

The report does not estimate how large the new crowds will be, although the Expo Line alone is eventually expected to bring as many as 64,000 passengers daily to the seaside city.

“Potential areas of concern are way-finding, traffic flow, traffic volume, public safety and access in general,” the report said.

Some of the Pier’s new spending next year reflects large costs for entertainment, including producing the popular Twilight Concert Series, now in its 32nd year.

About $713,000 of the Pier’s income is from a City grant, which is essentially flat from the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Some $200,000 is earmarked in the grant for the Twilight series, which also relies on sponsorships.

Still, the Pier is also projected to generate $690,000 from its concerts and other musical programming next year – a 63 percent increase from its current income for such events, according to the budget.

Smaller streams of income, such as filming permits and carousel rentals, are mostly flat, too. And a big earner for the Pier -- renting deck space for events-- tumbles 13 percent, from $289,000 this year to $250,000 in 2016-2017.

At the same time, the Pier’s bills are rising just for the basic operating costs. Of the $2,147,500 in total spending for the coming year, $798,000 is budgeted for staff salaries, benefits and insurance.

Others costs for staffing, as well as security and supplies, are budgeted at $70,000 in the coming fiscal year, up from $45,000 -- or a 56 percent increase -- in 2015-2016, the budget shows.

Another 56 percent hike in spending is tied to marketing and public relations expenses next year. Those costs increase from $32,000 this year to $50,000 next fiscal year.

For the fiscal year that began July1, total revenue is projected at $2,171,217.

The Santa Monica Pier Corporation, a non-profit organization, is under contract with the City to operate the Pier.

Santa Monica’s internationally-known pier already attracts about six million visitors a year.

Another major landmark in Santa Monica, the California Incline, is expected to reopen late this summer. It closed in April of last year for $20 million overhaul that is updating it to earthquake codes, widening the bridge and the sidewalks and improving the bike path.

Meanwhile, the ribbon was cut in early June on the Colorado Esplanade, a $13 million makeover of Colorado from 4th Street to Ocean Avenue meant to entice more visitors disembarking from the Downtown Metro Station to nearby sites, including the Promenade and Pier.

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