For the first time since 2008, Los Alamitos might get back in the holiday spirit.
Four years ago officials ended the city's holiday banner program due to budget concerns, but after a 3-2 City Council vote, staff are negotiating with a holiday decorations company to line the city streets with seasonal decorations.
As of Monday, staffers are still trying to hammer out a deal with Dekra-Lite, a company that specializes in commercial holiday decorations, to dress a number of light poles along city streets in holiday banners.
Corey Lakin, city recreation and community services director, said he is working to get the city one year of banners for no more than $30,000 as per the council's decision Sept. 17.
Lakin said his goal is get as many quality banners as possible, and if the deal goes through, City staff want to hang the banners sometime before Thanksgiving and take them down after New Years.
“Remember, none of this is guaranteed, as we are still negotiating as to what we can purchase for the $30,000,” Lakin said in an email to Patch.
Regardless of the deal’s final outcome, the Banners of Honor, the year-round decorations that celebrate those who serve or have served in the armed forces, will not be permanently removed.
Originally city staff had recommended a $90,000-banner deal under which Dekra-Lite would provide Los Alamitos with double-sided banners and lighted decorations for 57 light poles for the next three years.
The company would also store the decorations -- which would be personalized to say "City of Los Alamitos."
At the top right of this story, you can an see artist's description of what the banner's might have looked like, and where they would go, if the Council had approved the initial agreement.
After discussion, the council voted in favor of a year-long $30,000 agreement.
The discussion in council was lenghty: some city officials wanted to wait for the results of a survey of local residents -- one of the questions of which would ask people about decorations -- but city staff said that if there wasn’t a vote that night Sept. 17, it would be too late to get the decorations up before the holidays.
Mayor Troy Edgar said that he loves Christmas decorations and said he thought the current designs were “sexy,” but that it would be financially unwise to spend the money without being certain where in the general fund it would come from.
Edgar, who along with Councilman Ken Stephens cast the dissenting votes, said that he didn’t want the simple one-year deal, calling it "a bad decision.”
Some councilmembers were concerned that the money would come out of the city's Give Back Fund,
However, City Manager Angie Avery said she may be able fund the decorations with money set aside for a city staff position that hadn’t been filled.
Councilwoman Gerri Graham-Mejia along with Mayor Pro Tem Marilynn Poe and Councilmember Warren Kusumoto voted in favor the year-long $30,000 proposal, and asked City staff to begin negotiations.
“We may be able to get a good deal,” Mejia said. "I think that I would be comfortable with a good deal."
During public comments, Sam Manning, city Parks and Recreation commissioner, said that the other commissioners liked the idea of decorating.
“They all want this,” Manning said. “There’s definitely public support for this sort of thing. What I would not like to see is to have us spending the money we do not have.”
Despite funding concerns, Manning said he liked the banners too.
“I’d like to see something in the city that shows that we’re not the city that you know you're here because we have no decorations," Manning said.