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City commissioner wants to cancel Santa Monica’s popular Twilight Concert Series

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Arts Commissioner Phil Brock says the pier events “are now a security burden to our city”

Crowds on the beach with the Santa Monica Pier in the background T.Tseng | creative commons

Is it time for the popular Twilight Concert Series, held each summer at the Santa Monica Pier, to come to an end? Santa Monica Arts Commissioner Phil Brock says yes.

In an opinion piece, published last week in the Santa Monica Mirror, Brock, who has also served as a Recreation and Parks commissioner for the city, writes that “the Twilight Dance Concerts are now a security burden to our city.” He goes on to say that the outdoor concerts “must be canceled and reimagined” in the interest of ensuring the pier retains its “local flavor.”

The suggestion is part of a “wish list” for the city compiled by Brock on behalf of a group called Santa Monica Architects for a Responsible Tomorrow. Many of the items on the wish list pertain to curbing problems of overcrowding in the city, as well as limiting the scale of new development. But the most dramatic proposal is the elimination of the concert series—which has been a staple of the pier for decades.

The city has struggled in recent years to keep the scale of the concerts from growing too large, with the City Council deciding in 2014 to remove video screens that allowed spectators to view the shows from the beach.

A City Council report from May indicates the concerts bring in crowds of up to 30,000, and in August, City manager Rick Cole noted in a blog post that the concert series was drawing an unprecedented amount of vehicle and foot traffic to the Downtown area.

Santa Monica Next reviewed a financial analysis of the concert series and found that crowds more typically number between 8,000 and 10,000 attendees, but that security costs for the events have escalated rapidly in recent years. In 2013, the city spent just $50,000 on security for the event—compared to around $950,000 last year.

Still, as of right now, there aren’t any plans to call of the popular concerts. Jay Farrand, executive director of the Santa Monica Pier Corporation, which oversees the event, tells Santa Monica Next that there is “no threat to this 32-year community tradition.”