After rumblings within the West Hollywood community that a $67,000 price tag was too steep for the rainbow crosswalks installed at the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards, Mayor Jeffrey Prang defended the payment.
“The money that was put into those crosswalks is an investment in the branding and marketing of West Hollywood,” Prang said. “This is a project that has received enormously positive media attention. It is something that speaks to the heart and soul of what West Hollywood is. These things have great symbolic relevance to a lot of people in the community.”
Completed Friday, the crosswalks are located in Weho’s Boystown neighborhood. They were made popular during Gay Pride Month in July. The council voted in August to spend $67,000 to make them permanent using thermo-plastic technology.
Prang said that while painting crosswalks may seem simple in nature, the process of making the city’s colored crosswalks was more complex.
“If you look at the material, it is a hard plastic. It’s thick as a shingle,” Prang said. “It is a thermal plastic being melted onto the concrete. The color will never fade. It’s not something that can be done by a local artist with water-based paint.”
According to Prang, a normal crosswalk costs around $35,000 and is expected to last for five to seven years before it requires a touch-up. He said that in this case, the rainbow crosswalks are estimated to last for 12 to 15 years before they need serious attention.
City Councilman John D'Amico, in response to questions regarding the price of the crosswalks, offered to speak to concerned residents and gave out his cellular phone number in the comments section of a previous Patch article.
When asked if the money could have been spent on other city issues, D'Amico responded, “Of course.”
“Government is about priorities. We very carefully divide up and appropriate the dollars we have in the right categories, such as the millions of dollars we spend on social services,” D'Amico said. “There’s always different ways to think about spending money. The more nuanced answer from my point of view is that we’re spending that money in the right way.”
D'Amico agreed with Prang that Boystown’s vitality is key to the success of West Hollywood as an important destination for the gay and lesbian community.
“It’s gotten us a lot of press and it has helped people think again about what this part of West Hollywood means,” D'Amico said.