By Jane Smith
Delray Beach is streamlining its special events policy to make it easier for festival organizers to apply and know their public safety costs up front while keeping the focus on hometown events.
City commissioners unanimously approved the revised policy at their Nov. 13 workshop.
“We went from an 88-page guidebook to a trifold pamphlet,” acting Assistant City Manager Jeff Goldman told the commission. “We received feedback that we were overbilling and that the process to apply was overly long.”
The new policy will go into effect on Jan. 1.
Goldman said the public safety costs have been streamlined to cover the average salaries of a police officer and a firefighter/paramedic. Previously, the public safety costs could vary by the rank of the police officer and firefighter/paramedic who staffed the event.
Now, the event organizers will know their public safety costs when they apply, Goldman said, unless they make the event larger and need more protection as a result. He worked with Suzanne Fisher, the city’s Parks and Recreation director, to revise the special events policy.
The seven types of events of the past were reduced to three: commercial events that charge admission, community events that are free and athletic events.
Concerts and festivals that charge entrance fees are listed under the commercial events category. Community events are defined as parades, free concerts and festivals, and the GreenMarket. Athletic events include 5K, 10K and marathon races, charity/fitness walks and bike races.
The application fee for all events is $150, which is nonrefundable. The application deadlines are 90 days before the events for commercial and community, and 45 days for athletic events.
Applications for commercial and community events will be processed in 60 days and ones for athletic events in 30 days. Previously, the city had 180 days to process applications for “major events” and parades. The city will take late applications by charging an additional $100 fee.
The city also listed what it considers to be its hometown events. They are: Veterans Day ceremony, Turkey Trot races, Surf Festival, 100-foot Christmas tree and related events, Holiday Parade, First Night, Fourth of July festivities, Kids Fest, Spring Fest/Egg Hunt, National Night Out, Family Fun Day and free Friday concerts on the Old School Square grounds.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade was not listed, but it will be another city-sponsored event, produced by the city’s Fire and Rescue Department, Goldman said. The March parade will be the 51st.
Goldman and Fisher also strengthened the definition of a nonprofit entity’s application to include providing “detailed information about how the proposed event serves a public purpose to foster an authentic and inspiring community that celebrates our history while building toward the future.”
That should eliminate for-profit companies that masquerade as nonprofits. “We were dealing with nonprofits that did not benefit our community,” Mayor Shelly Petrolia said.
The city will subsidize 50 percent of costs to the nonprofits in all three types of events.
The application size was reduced to four pages from six and now can be completed online, Goldman said.
For events on the Old School Square grounds, the commission had asked that no events be held on the front lawn between the Cornell Museum and Atlantic Avenue. “It looks junky with cars on the front lawn,” Petrolia said.
Goldman and Fisher will meet with Old School Square staffers to remind them of that requirement while discussing where they can hold the two events that are part of its 10-year lease with the city.
“We will make sure it works for us,” Goldman said.
Commissioners agreed to wipe the slate clean for four nonprofit organizations that owed the city a combined $12,954. In the future, those event producers, regardless of whether they are for-profit or nonprofit, will not be allowed to host an event unless they pay the amount owed to the city.
Event producers also will be asked to follow the city’s green practices that reduce or eliminate the use of plastic and Styrofoam and discourage the use of single-use plastics, such as straws.
In addition, Petrolia asked how the limit of major events to one per month in the previous policy would be accomplished under the revised policy.
“We have the right to say no,” Goldman said.
The City Commission now has approval power over commercial events with recommendations from the Special Events Office and its Technical Advisory Committee, consisting of staff from various departments such as police, fire, parks, code enforcement and public works. That power gave the commission some comfort.
“We need to give our citizens relief” from too many events, said Commissioner Bill Bathurst.