Local teenagers got up close to some of their favorite stars including Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers as the city of Hermosa Beach enjoyed a global platform when the Teen Choice Awards were broadcast live from the city on Sunday.
But some business owners downtown said they lost customers due to parking lot and road closures and lack of notification.
Preparation for Teen Choice began a week prior to the Aug. 11 event with load-in, setup and rehearsals. And, even though city officials warned of the closures, some business owners said they didn't get the information early enough.
Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau President Maureen Hunt said on Monday she heard a lot of downtown businesses, especially on Pier Plaza were upset they were not asked for input in the planning stages and not thoroughly briefed about what would happen on Sunday.
The city did pass on information about lot and street closures, said Hunt, but that was just prior to the event.
“I know this was hard for city staff, as it was finally approved with a short amount of time prior to the event," said Hunt. "I think the initial shock of the set up on Sunday morning eventually wore off, as the restaurants and stores eventually filled up quickly.”
City Manager Suja Lowenthal said city staff met with police, the Los Angeles Fire Department and lifeguards and “worked diligently” leading up to the event to “ensure public safety and minimize impacts on the community.”
Lowenthal added the city worked with local businesses throughout the process and made many adjustments to provide access to all downtown businesses.
“We have heard the concerns of some business owners, and we plan to reach out for their additional feedback now that they have had some time to assess the results,” Lowenthal said, adding she also planned to survey residents who were unable to obtain locals-only wristbands.
Businesses wanted more input
Hermosa Beach Mayor Stacey Armato said the Teen Choice Awards was a joyful, family friendly event. No arrests were reported that were related to the show or its audience, she said.
“We were also pleased to see large crowds in downtown businesses after the event,” Armato said. “Because this was the first time the city hosted a live, nationally televised show with a large audience on its beach, Teen Choice presented challenges for city staff, businesses and residents. We have heard some of their concerns, and our priority now is to get everyone’s feedback and learn from this experience.”
But in the aftermath, some business owners were not happy with the event's impact.
Ron Newman, whose eateries include Tower 12, Palmilla and Baja Sharkeez, said local businesses should have had more input for such a high-profile event.
“Even though they had these information cards, it was very, very hard to tell from that exactly what was going to happen,” Newman said, who added his employees had difficult time making it into work due to the parking lot closures.
Patrick Molloy's manager John Madden said last weekend was “not terrible, but definitely not great” for business.
“The shutdown of the parking really destroyed a lot of the Friday and Saturday night crowd we typically get,” Madden said, adding he thought Sunday would make up for the slowness, but it “definitely did not.”
Madden said he received little notification and found it difficult to plan. He did not learn how the red carpet would block off the end of Pier Plaza until the day before.
Hermosa Cyclery's Steve Collins, whose businesses on 13th Street is just steps from Pier Plaza, said he originally saw a map resembling the footprint of Fiesta Hermosa, which happens twice a year in the cit. That map depicted streets open to pedestrians, but closed to cars in certain areas.
But later, Collins said he saw a different map and the city told him they were closing down all streets around his business to pedestrians “effectively shutting us down.” But over the next week, the city started incremental changes, opening up parts of those streets, including 13th Street.
“If they really wanted to get to us they could,” Collins said, about customers.
Collins claimed Bob Bain Productions was not helpful when it came to his business concerns, but that City Manager Lowenthal was respectful and “eager to try to get us back to something normal.”
Ultimately Collins estimated revenue was down 17 percent from the same weekend in 2018.
AVP, major events the norm
Hermosa Beach is no stranger to big weekend summer events such as the AVP tour and the upcoming summer concert series. And, according to Newman, downtown businesses usually benefit from the influx of people.
But with Teen Choice, a one-day event, that was not the case, said Newman.
“The event was a good event for the people who got to go there and whatever TV exposure we received, but it could never cover what it did to a lot of the businesses,” said Newman.
Rick Hankus, owner of Java Man, a short walk to Pier Plaza, said he geared up for a busy Sunday, but business was slower than normal.
“Maybe the locals got scared of the potential crowds and stayed away,” Hankus said. “But as I watched it on TV, it looked like everyone was having a good time.”
Madden, of Patrick Molloy's, said if the event returns next year, the city needs to work more with businesses to address parking.
“If they're going to have parking for their workers down here, maybe do it at Mira Costa High School and shuttle them in where they don't completely kill our business,” said Madden.
Newman said he would not support the event returning unless “they come up with a whole new way of parking,” which could include shuttle buses.
Collins said it was “wasteful to take the entire parking structure.” He said the city needs to engage the business community and its residents more if the event returns in 2020.
On Tuesday, the producers of the Teen Choice Awards, Bob Bain Productions, declined to comment specifically about the business impact and referred questions to the city.
Bob Bain, a Manhattan Beach resident who founded Teen Choice, said in a general statement, that “it was an exciting event for all of us in production and we are delighted with the results.”
Bain went on to thank the residents of Hermosa Beach, the mayor, the local businesses and the thousands of SouthBay teens (and parents) who came out to the beach.
“We hope to see everyone again next year,” said Bain in the statement.