Council Votes 8-0 To Give Newly Organized, Privately-Run "Sea Festival Ass'n" Authority To Attract & Manage New LB Summertime Events
(May 3, 2005) -- The LB City Council has authorize city management to negotiate and execute a five-year agreement with a recently formed, privately-run "Sea Festival Association of Long Beach" (members listed below) to attract and manage summertime events involving the LB shoreline and potentially beyond.
The May 3 vote (8-0, Richardson absent) came without any Councilmember asking to see the contract or a business plan beyond a first year pro forma attached to a city management memo.
As described in an agendizing memo by Parks & Rec. Dir. Phil Hester, the events between July 4th and Labor Day will attract residents and visitors to LB under the umbrella of a new, broadly defined International Sea Festival. The memo stated in pertinent part:
The Sea Festival Association of Long Beach (Association) is a nonprofit organization that has been created by a consortium of community leaders to revive the City
International Sea Festival. The founding members of this organization are:
- Drew Satariano, Parks and Recreation Commission member
- Dick Miller, Marine Advisory Commission member
- Tori Bush , Belmont Shore Business Association Executive Director
- Chris Kozaites, Parks and Recreation Commission President
- Dennis Lord, Los Angeles County Airport Commission member
- Christopher Pook, Chanslor Investments
- Gregg Whelan, Chairman , Long Beach Strategic Marketing, Inc.
...[T]he Association has developed a business plan that addresses
each of these areas. The concept is to have the Association become the sanctioning
body for the programs offered under the International Sea Festival umbrella. This is
similar to the organization of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Grand Prix
Association sanctions five races as part of the overall event each year. Each race is an
individual program managed by separate entities. There is, however, one significant
difference between the Grand Prix Association and the Sea Festival Association. The
Sea Festival Association will NOT promote or operate one single event; all events within
Sea Festival will be promoted and operated by individual promoters. The Sea Festival
Association s responsibilities will be to ensure that all events are operated under one
standard set of guidelines designed to ensure that the Long Beach "Brand" is
professionally and correctly promoted and presented to standards that are acceptable to
all stakeholders , including, but not limited to, the residents of the City of Long Beach
both commercial and residential.
City staff's memo indicated the new entity would manage and market events programmed under the International Sea Festival umbrella, operate under a master agreement with the City to organize, program, and promote a series of events...and develop a master event sanctioned agreement "which will ensure that each event operator will comply with the City rules and regulations, as well as marketing and public relations disciplines, including, but not limited to the following: City fees and expenses, insurance, community relations, standards of presentations and operations , media policies, media interface, and "branding" compliance."
The city management memo continues:
The Association is seeking a five-year contract to oversee the activities of the
International Sea Festival and to attract other family-friendly events to the city as part of
this program. The contract would require that all City expenses in support of these
events be recovered from the event producers. The Office of Special Events and
Filming would be responsible for handling permitting processes and ensuring
compliance with City ordinances and public safety requirements. Permitting these
activities will provide the mechanism for the City to require payments of estimated fees
in advance of the event and to recover any additional costs incurred to support these
events. The contract with the Association will include the requirement for an annual
post event review of activities with the City Manager. This review will include a review
and discussion of operational impacts and the financial statements of the Association.
This meeting must be scheduled before December 1, each year of the contract. If the
programs are not meeting the expectations of the City Manager, he may restructure or
cancel the contract within 30 days of the meeting.
...In anticipation of the execution of an agreement, the Association has prepared a
first year operating pro forma [attached to agendized document] that was reviewed by the City Auditor Office. The development of a yearly business plan will also be a requirement of the
In March 2005 (following a September 2004 story first reported by LBReport.com), city management told LBReport.com that it had retained Chanslor Investments (Mr. Pook's firm) as consultant for the sum of $40,000. "They have been charged with making specific recommendations on how to programming can be expanded to feature Long beach as a destination for summer fun from July through August. They are also developing business models showing how these programs can be packaged to become self-sustaining," said a March 16 memo from Parks & Rec. Director Phil Hester.
City management held a public Council study session on the arrangement on March 22, then agendized the item for Council approval on April 5...but it was withdrawn prior to Council discussion.
During the May 3 Council item, City Auditor Gary Burroughs came to the podium and indicated that following his review of the materials, the proposed arrangement now uses what he portrayed as more reasonable financial figures.
When this was presented the last time, I thought that the numbers that were being presented, in terms of a reasonable expectation about whether or not they could be achieved was very uncertain and very remote, and who knows. I think what's being presented tonight is a much different story. Clearly, you can see that the numbers are much different now than what they were previously. I have at least a good sense as a businessperson that says these numbers have at least a much more reasonable opportunity and chance of being attained. The other thing I would suggest to you that from a business perspective, this now has a very low downside risk but it has a very high potential on the upside...It has those "offramps" so that Mr. Miller can look at this every year...
During the Council discussion, Councilwoman Rae Gabelich asked City Manager Miller to respond to an email she'd received inquiring if an RFP [Request for Proposals] had been issued for the arrangement. City Manager Miller replied in part:
I asked Mr. Pook if he would consider helping us to set up a business plan for a new sea festival that would (1) take advantage of what we currently have and (2) take a look at how we might be able grow it into a larger event. I notified each of you of my intention to hire him. I have done so. He has done, I think, a supurb job. Mr. Pook offers many ideas and connections that staff simply doesn't have. Should I have RFP'd that? Perhaps I could have or should have, but I thought that his skills were so unique, frankly, based upon his track record here in the City of Long Beach that they warranted my consideration of him, and again, I notified the entire Council before acting...you certainly had the opportunity to notify me if you had concerns about that.
Councilwoman Gabelich assured City Manager Miller that she had no such concerns but was simply relaying an inquiry from an emailer. She then credited Mr. Pook with having organized LB's leading event (the Grand Prix).