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Solvang City Council votes 3-2 in favor of downsized Pride banner plan

Downsized Pride banner planned approved by 3-2 vote in Solvang

SOLVANG, Calif.- Solvang and the Santa Ynez Valley have been in the spotlight lately and not for tourism or Hallmark movies shot on location.

Lately, the city known for its Danish look, has garnered attention for a political divide over Pride.

A crosswalk painted with rainbow stripes didn't last long after complaints from members of the community and a council member's comments that were revealed following a public records request made by the Santa Barbara Independent.

The report included statements made by self-proclaimed libertarian Robert Clarke.

Clarke called efforts to put flags up for Pride month in June "woke."

Clarke corresponded with members of Santa Ynez Valley Common Sense (SYVCS) and the Independent reported that some members worried Pride banners were part of an effort to "groom" or"sexualize" children.

The report said Clarke shared concerns about the effects of drag shows hosted by The Rainbow House, Inc.

The public records request revealed Clarke used words and phrases such as "chardonnay antifa", "snowflakes," and "woke poison."

The Chair of the Solvang Tourism Committee Vashti Wilson called it a hot button issue.

Wilson, who is also a business owner, said the name calling and monikers should never be used by someone in public office.

During public comments, one speaker brought up a recent letter sent by the Danish Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Denmark to Solvang's mayor urging the Danish-themed city to be more inclusive.

Another speaker described Pride month as a celebration of sexual orientation that has landed the town in the media for all the wrong reasons.

After several hours of public comments, Solvang City Council members voted 3-2 in favor of a downsized plan to put eight banners up for 10 days during Pride month in June.

Supporters applauded.

Council members Claudia Orona, Mayor Pro-Tem Elizabeth Orona and Mayor Mark Infanti voted yes, while council members David Brown and Robert Clarke voted no.

The Co-founders of The Rainbow House Inc. said even though the rainbow striped crosswalks were not part of the new revised application they are happy with the result.

"It is so incredible to see how many community members came out in support of awareness, inclusion and diversity. Half of the people that went up and spoke in support of the banners we did not know," said Kiel Cavalli. "To see that much support when you feel like you're just two guys going up against the whole city makes it all worth it."

Cavalli hopes the downsized plan will win others over.

People on both sides the issue said they want Solvang visitors to feel welcome.

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Article Topic Follows: Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County
Santa Barbara
Santa Ynez Valley Common Sense
Solvang City Council

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Tracy Lehr

Tracy Lehr is a reporter and the weekend anchor for News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Tracy, click here


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