The Press

Huntington Park to assist chamber with street festival costs

HUNTINGTON PARK — The City Council will partner with the Greater Huntington Park Area Chamber of Commerce for the chamber’s annual Carnaval Primavera, a spring street festival set for April 10-12 on Pacific Boulevard between Gage and Slauson avenues.

The City Council gave final approval on a 5-0 vote March 2, which includes a fee waiver for financial hardship. But the vote is on condition that a review of the chamber’s books shows financial hardship, thus meeting city code for such waivers.

Council members, who had earlier approved a permit and closing the street for the event, said March 2 they would take the word of chamber officials that their financial status, when reviewed, would justify the waiver, estimated at $20,000.

They said they needed more time to review the information received from chamber officials that night.

Leticia Martinez, executive director of the chamber, said the business organization started the year with revenue of just $6,714. Sponsor and vendor fees are expected to cover most, but not all, of the festival’s costs.

Martinez said about 150,000 people are expected to attend over the three-day period. Admission is free. Offered will be carnival rides, entertainment, game booths, exhibits, arts and craft booths, food booths and a community health fair.

“We are asking for a partnership and that the city give us a partial waiver by not charging costs of police and public works employees during their regular working hours. We will pay overtime costs for the police department,” Martinez said, adding that the chamber would also pay the estimated $3,000 loss of parking meter revenue during the event.

Operating hours will be 5 to 11 p.m. April 10, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. April 11 and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. April 12.

The total estimated city cost is about $50,000 and includes $36,945 for police services, $9,851 for public works help and $3,000 in estimated loss of parking meter revenue, interim City Manager John Ornelas said.

“I want to help the chamber but I’m concerned about the impact to businesses,” Councilman Valentin Amezquita said.

Some businesses on Pacific Boulevard have complained that they lose customers when the street is closed for several days. Martinez has said the events bring shoppers and potential shoppers to the city.

But Martinez said a number of Pacific Boulevard merchants have reported increased business during past events from passers-by.

That’s logical, said Councilman Mario Gomez, who made the motion for final approval. He said with thousands of people passing by on foot enterprising merchants should take advantage of it.

Martinez said the main reason for the spring and fall street festivals and the Christmas parade is to promote the city and bring people into the shopping area.

Council members expressed concern about the chamber’s long-term status, noting that many businesses choose not to join the chamber. Martinez said membership is just $180 a year for small businesses.

She said she has a staff of three, one of whom is assigned to interact with businesses along Pacific Boulevard.