A coalition of event organizers in San Diego is focusing on halting planned increases in city fees, led by Laurel McFarlane, an event planner in La Jolla.
The San Diego Coalition – formed in 2020 to “create a voice for the event industry” at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when gathering restrictions caused many events to close – aims to present a united front against what it sees as excessive fee increases.
The San Diego City proposal would sharply increase fees for police and other support at events in La Jolla and across the city. An increase of at least 40 percent is envisaged for more than 50 separate fees.
Nonprofits that organize events such as agricultural markets, street fairs and annual festivals say the time of the increase, which in many cases would more than double fees, is appalling as they are already facing financial challenges due to pandemics and inflation.
City officials say most of these benefits have not been raised for many years and that increases are needed to cover city costs to monitor such events, which have risen sharply as workers’ wages have risen more than 30 percent since 2019. The increases are projected to generate $ 8.4 million in annual revenue for the city.
McFarlane Promotions manages the expansion and promotion of events such as La Jolla Concours d’Elegance and La Jolla Art & amp; Wine festival.
“Events were the first thing to close and the last thing to open,” McFarlane told La Jolla Light. “Initially, we worked … to abolish fees for the event industry and to restart events. … We come together as producers when we see something that will be detrimental to our industry. ”
“Raising rates right now when costs are already 30 to 40 percent higher… is devastating. “It’s not time for another blow,” McFarlane said.
The coalition next plans to have meetings with San Diego City Council members, write letters and present them to the council when the item is heard on Monday, February 14th.
“They take a big part of our profits. … It will come back to them and lead to fewer events. ”
Sherry Ahern, La Jolla Art & amp; Founder of the Wine Festival
Recognizing that San Diego police officers working on events “should be paid as much as they deserve,” McFarlane said the city should supplement some of the fees because those events bring in dollars from tourism to the city, do nonprofit jobs that the city doesn’t do have to pay and secure events with the quality of life in San Diego. ”
Non-profit events would be particularly affected, McFarlane said.
“Ideally, the city would offer a discount for nonprofits,” she said. “The intent of these non-profit events is to attract people to an area, and some free events will no longer be free with these fees. The only way to make up for this is to charge an entry fee. That’s not what anyone wants. “
City officials say they know of no other big city giving discounts to nonprofits compared to sponsors of for-profit events, stressing that the increases will be gradual over three years and that nonprofits will not see an increase at all until July 2023.
A nonprofit organization representing a special event would increase the cost of an hour per police officer from $ 55 to $ 89 in July 2023 and to $ 119 in July 2024 and beyond. So a nonprofit organization sponsoring a parade requiring eight police officers for six hours would increase from $ 2,640 now to $ 5,712 in 2024.
“For some major events, it’s a huge increase,” McFarlane said.
For example, she said, police fees for La Jolla Art & amp; The Wine Festival would increase from $ 9,397 to $ 16,235 in three years, an increase of 72 percent. Fees for La Jolla Concours d’Elegance would increase from $ 8,368 to $ 14,072, an increase of 68 percent.
Art & amp; Wine Festival founder Sherry Ahern said: “[Multiply] that by many years and they will take a big chunk of our profits. … It will come back to haunt them and lead to fewer events. Many events cannot afford all these benefits. ”
Michael Dorvillier, chairman of La Jolla Concours, told Light earlier that “it is particularly discouraging to see that this proposed fee increase comes at a time when we are all only now getting back on our feet after the pandemic. … [It] will jeopardize the future of many events. ”
McFarlane said event planners are trying to have meaningful talks and recommend [that] gradual implementation take six to eight years, not three. We want to know if there are other options. We don’t want to avoid fees; we want to work together so that it would not be so harmful. ” ◆