At last night’s meeting, the City Council unanimously approved a motion that allows the City Manager to enter into negotiations to bring Cirque de Soleil back to the Santa Monica Pier next fall. (Meeting Agenda, Item 5f.)
Before the discussion, the Council heard from the city’s Pier Commission and individual pier business owners. The Commission expressed support for the proposal but business owners were concerned that the Cirque’s plan to place their tent in what is currently the pier’s parking lot would negatively impact small businesses.
Councilmembers were also concerned that vague language in the “authorization agreement” that would allow the city staff to negotiate details with Cirque du Soleil would allow the acrobat show to see what the city saw as requirements as mere suggestions. Staff countered that such language is normal at this point in the negotiation, but they would of course follow any council direction. The idea of bringing the final proposal back to Council for approval was not considered because the Council wouldn’t see the proposal until the 23rd of January at the earliest which could be too late for Cirque du Soleil to be ready for its run on the Pier next year.
However, the Council voted unanimously to support the city’s efforts to negotiate with Cirque du Soleil after a series of clarifying amendments to the staff proposal were made by Councilmember Gleam Davis after hearing the concerns brought forward by her colleagues. These changes include:
- That the city develop integrated traffic plan that doesn’t just include traffic to and from the pier and the audience for Cirque du Soleil, but also for employees and business owners that need to access the pier area,
- City manager work with businesses and Cirque to maximize synergy betweent he groups,
- That pier stakeholders are included in negotiations on the lease and any after-action reports,
- That the contract include specific metrics for local hires, small business contracts and diversity, equity and inclusion goals
The city estimates that bringing back Cirque du Soleil could generate $20 million in tourism revenue for local businesses based on a study completed after a ten week run in 2009. The circus would occupy the pier parking lot for four months, but Cirque’s “Kooza” performances would only run from October 22, 2024 to January 5, 2025. Kooza was the same performance put on in 2010 on the pier.