“The power under the constitution will always be in the people. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes, and for a certain limited period, to representatives of their own choosing; and whenever it is executed contrary to their interest, or not agreeable to their wishes, their servants can and undoubtedly will, be recalled.”

~ George Washington (1787)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Small City Has A Big Government

Having a Party? Better Call City Hall 
"The Last Page", By Ken Graham
Waitsburg Times: registration required
Are you planning a little get-together with friends sometime this spring? If you live in Dayton, you may need to get permission from the city first.
City Council member Dain Nysoe is spearheading an effort to require city residents who are planning an event to submit a “Special Events Permit Application” first.

The draft application that was reviewed by members of the council’s public safety committee on Thursday (I got my grubby hands on a copy too) is 12 pages long, single spaced. It’s a lightly edited version of one used by the city of Ephrata, Wash.

(Near the top of Page 1 it actually says, “Don’t let the size of this packet intimidate you!” That made me feel better.) The thing is that nowhere in all its verbiage does the document specify what types of events will need a permit. So I guess we must assume that they all do – including your little back-yard barbeque.

Here are some of the things you’ll need to do before you throw your briquettes on the grill:

First of all, you’ll need to submit something called a fact sheet/timeline. A site map must also be submitted, showing locations of proposed parking, fences, stages, toilets and trash containers. And you’ll need to provide samples of advertising for the event. So you’d better cc the city on those invitation emails.

And call your agent, because you’re going to need liability insurance. $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate, to be precise. And don’t forget your health department permit. You’ll also need a temporary use permit, with application submitted to the city planning director at least 30 days prior to the event.

And the kicker is that you’re going to have to pay the city for their trouble on account of your little function. You may have to pay a “park and/or open space rental fee and damage deposit.” And here’s my favorite: you’ll have to pay for the cost of city staff “to ensure that park rules and the permit agreement are enforced.” So there.
 Fair Use prevents posting more  of the column,  but here's the conclusion:

Perhaps, to help minimize risk, a certain amount of documentation to the city for large events is in order.

But instead of borrowing a heavy-handed 12-page document used by a city three times Dayton’s size, and then not putting much more thought into it (like not bothering to define what constitutes an “event”), why not start with a blank slate? Determine what the problem is, and then take least amount of action needed to solve it.
 Sounds reasonable.