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Will ‘LA Partyworks’ Continue to Run Monrovia’s Friday Night Street Fair?

- Photo by Terry Miller

– Photo by Terry Miller

City Sends Notice of Intent to Terminate Franchise Agreement

By Terry Miller and Susan Motander

Last week the city of Monrovia issued a warning to Los Angeles Partyworks demanding that the company comply with the terms of their contract to run the Friday evening Monrovia Street Fair. This action came just days after Kurt Anderson, who has long been affiliated with the prior manager of the Friday event, presented the city council with a long list of what he called violations of the agreement with the city.

At that time Monrovia City Manager Oliver Chi stated that the oversight committee in charge of the Friday night event had already scheduled a meeting for the next day. By the end of last week rumors were pandemic.

Chi acknowledged that a notice of termination had been sent to the company. He explained that this was the manner prescribed by the contract to notify that company when it was not in compliance with the contract. Chi said that while the new managers “have been effective in expanding the event and making layout changes,” he also said there “have been a couple of significant concerns.”

Chi acknowledged that there had been “good feedback” regarding the music and other aspects of the Friday Street fair. However, he also noted that he and the oversight committee had real concerns about the set up and take-down of the event as well as about the general safety of the festival.

He explained that the city was obligated by the contract to give L.A. Partyworks formal notice of its concerns. That notice reads in part:

“In conformance with the provisions of Section 14, this notice has been prepared to provide LA PartyWorks with requisite advanced notification that the City intends to terminate the Agreement effective August 8, 2015. The selected Agreement termination date provides LA PartyWorks with a reasonable time to cure performance deficiencies identified by the City. Furthermore, the City is requesting that the operational issues at the Event as outlined below be addressed by the correspondingly identified date.”

The notice went on to list all the conditions with which L.A. Partyworks was not in compliance with contractual obligations and set out an exact time line for compliance. The letter also reminded the company that it had not accepted the city’s offer to assist it with training.

Many people, including the principals, would not go “on the record” for this article, citing contractual/legal issues. However, it seems there is considerable disapproval with LA Partyworks’ initial events.

One old town merchant, Lisa Magno-Marino, owner of assisted living facility Leven Oaks, said that she heard many of the other merchants complaining about specific problems – to wit, that employees of the new manager of the event were rude to merchants and had been argumentative with not only various vendors, but also with representatives of the city, including the city manager.

She said while she has not attended the fair herself, she had heard from other merchants that the large trucks that had previously blocked traffic at both ends of the festival had been replaced with portable metal fencing. She expressed concern that these light-weight barricades would not prevent a “Santa Monica-like” disaster (It was at a farmer’s market in Santa Monica that a driver barreled through the event, killing ten and severely injuring 63 people in 2003).

Chi declined the opportunity to refute the allegation that employees of L.A. Partyworks had been rude, but did indicate that the issue of the street fair would be on the August 4 city council agenda. He said he had placed this on the agenda as a result of the company’s continued failure to comply with the city’s requests in a timely manner.

We contacted former Mayor and now School Board Member Rob Hammond for comment as he was one of the founders of the Monrovia Family Festival in the early 1990s.
“When we started the Festival there was a basic ‘non-compete’ agreement,” meaning that the festival was to energize the area on Myrtle on a Friday evening and not hurt the merchants who are trying to do businesses 365 days a year. Hammond added, “The ‘new’ show has a proliferation of competitors/outside vendors including a brick-oven pizza …There are many excellent pizza places on Myrtle.” Finally Hammond posed the question: “Is the Family Festival for the betterment of Monrovians and the merchants on Myrtle, or the outside vendors?” In closing, Hammond said, “It was a mistake to render a decision based on the selection committee’s recommendation – especially when this company has NEVER run a street festival before … anywhere.”

Here’s the letter sent to LA Partyworks:

“Notice of Intent to Terminate the Exclusive Franchise Agreement for the Production of the Friday Night Family Street Fair

“Dear Mr. Nemetz,

“Pursuant to Section 14 of the Exclusive Franchise Agreement (Agreement) between the City of Monrovia (City) and Los Angeles PartyWorks, Inc. (LA PartyWorks) for the production of the Friday Night Family Street Fair (Event), please accept this correspondence as an official notice of intent to terminate the Agreement.

“In conformance with the provisions of Section 14, this notice has been prepared to provide LA PartyWorks with requisite advanced notification that the City intends to terminate the Agreement effective August 8, 2015. The selected Agreement termination date provides LA PartyWorks with a reasonable time to cure performance deficiencies identified by the City.

“Furthermore, the City is requesting that the operational issues at the Event as outlined below be addressed by the correspondingly identified date.

“By Friday, July 24, 2015

-Implement an improved traffic safety program to ensure that vehicular–pedestrian conflicts do not occur at the Event

-Improve event set-up and take-down procedures, paying particular attention to traffic safety issues

-Provide adequate and trained staff to coordinate the set-up, management, and take-down of the Event

-Provide the City with information regarding the licensed and bonded security guard company providing security services for the Event

-Implement a program to improve trash collection services for the proper removal and disposal of trash generated by the Event

-Provide the equipment necessary to provide all Event vendors with reliable electrical power

-Correct any Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) deficiencies currently associated with the production of the Event

-Cease operations of the LA PartyWorks kettle corn both, which is being operated in violation of the Agreement

-Cease the prohibition on Event vendors from selling drinks, including soda and water

-Cease operations of the LA PartyWorks drink booths, which is being operated in violation of the Agreement

-Allow Jake’s Roadhouse to set-up and operate the Jake’s BBQ and Jake’s Kettle Corn booths in a similar location to where they operated prior to LA PartyWorks taking over production of the Event

-Present a plan for the City’s consideration to improve seating areas, both in terms of quantity and quality, at the Event

-Present a plan for the City’s consideration to improve the lighting at the Event after sunset

“By Friday, July 31, 2015

-Present a plan for the City’s consideration to limit the number of food vendor booths at the Event

-Present a plan for the City’s consideration to upgrade the management, supervision, and safety of the Kids Zone

-Present a plan for the City’s consideration to develop a plan for providing electrical power to the 800 block of Myrtle Avenue

-Present an overall traffic control plan for the Event for the City’s consideration

-Implement the City approved plan to improve the lighting at the Event after sunset

-Implement the City approved plan to improve seating areas, both in terms of quantity and quality, at the Event

“By Friday, August 7, 2015

-Implement the City approved plan for limiting the number of food vendors booths at the Event

-Implement the City approved plan for upgrading the management, supervision, and safety of the Kids Zone

-Implement the City approved plan for providing electrical power to the 800 block of Myrtle Avenue

-Implement the City approved traffic control plan for the Event

“It is also important to note that the City has previously offered to provide LA PartyWorks with training related to traffic safety, Event set-up, and electrical power considerations. To this point in time, LA PartyWorks has not accepted the training opportunities, and we would like to reiterate the offer at this point in time.

“Thank you for your prompt attention to the issues identified in this correspondence. Please feel free to let me know if you should have any questions – I can be reached via email at ochi@ci.monrovia.ca.us, or via cell phone at (310) 663-9837.

“Best regards,

“Oliver Chi, City Manager.”

The following are the above mentioned concerns of Monrovia resident Kurt Anderson, who presented this list to city council:

  1. Information regarding vendor and event information on Partyworks website promised by July 1 still not available.
  2. Public Works staff is setting out City traffic signage.
  3. Public Works Edison service is being used to supply event electric power in the 500, 600 and 700 blocks of S. Myrtle.
  4. Public Works 220 KW generator and attendant staff is being used to supply electric power in the 800 S. Myrtle block.
  5. This is equipment and staff that Partyworks represented themselves as having. How are we being paid for the use of these services? In the event of an Edison power failure is the City responsible for replacement power supply? In the event of a generator malfunction resulting in equipment damage or human injury, is the City responsible?

Partyworks has been closing Myrtle well in advance of posted 4:00 time, disrupting established delivery times and schedules.

  1. Street closure has been poorly performed. Open and unattended barricades observed at Lemon and Colorado intersections. There is no physical barrier in place at Lemon to prevent a Santa Monica type of tragedy. Parking on Colorado looks chaotic and unorganized. There is no clear definition that the parking is for vendor vehicles and why are they being parked outside the window views of the Monrovian and Rudy’s restaurants anyway? Cars were still moving on the Street at 5:30 last Friday.
  2. ADA requirements were not met at S/E sidewalk aprons at Olive/Myrtle intersection. —–Blocked by Popcorn and Info booths.
  3. We now have porta-potty outhouse toilets and dirty sinks instead of the high-quality restroom trailer previously in use.
  4. Why is Jake’s Roadhouse not being allowed to sell from the location that they have had? More to the point, why is this spot now being occupied by an outside vendor selling popcorn in spite of the contract prohibiting activities in direct conflict with local businesses? Why was the Partyworks owner harassing the Jake’s food booth staff about their booth configuration last Friday? And why didn’t he identify himself to them?
  5. At the end of the evening at 10:00 I watched a situation that causes me the greatest amount of concern. Two vendor vehicles were entering the Colorado/Myrtle intersection with no staff supervision. Due to the number of people and booths in that area the first vehicle could not proceed and started to back up. This was a van with limited rear vision. At this time a group of 4 or 5 Partyworks staff approached and were continuing unconcerned through the intersection until I stopped them and advised them that they had an extremely dangerous situation at hand. The response from one of them was, “Don’t worry; the vendors know what they’re doing.” This statement came from an individual approximately 16 to 17 years old. What do we think his experience is at this type of activity? This level of management and supervision is a recipe for disaster and it can only be a matter of time before someone is hurt or killed.
  6. If Partyworks is going to staff this event with people mostly under 18 (as a casual observation) would indicate has the company owner obtained school-issued work permits for each applicable individual as required by California labor laws? For that matter, are the rest of his permits and liability insurance requirements being met? Has his liability carrier visited the site and approved what they are insuring?
  7. The Friday Night Street Fair has an unblemished 23-year safety record and my first concern is that it remains that way, but there are obviously many other issues needing attention.

 

July 29, 2015

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