A bill filed by Reggie Brown in the Jacksonville City Council this week would institute a 90-day moratorium on “block party” gatherings.
The legislation (2017-196) posits “a legitimate public purpose in imposing a temporary moratorium on permitting recreational street closings … ‘block parties’ within the City, to allow the City time to create appropriate local regulations and standards.”
Brown’s motivation for filing the bill came up in a discussion of council funded community events this week, in which he noted the inconsistency between the city allowing block parties on streets, while discouraging similar gatherings in public parks.
In gatherings in parks, Brown noted a double standard. Unorganized groups can congregate in parks, whereas for organized groups that may want to rent a stage and the like, costs and permitting obligations compound.
Brown has had to convince some recalcitrant council members of the need for council-sponsored community events in the past, and this latest bill is part of that continuing education effort, he told us.
“Our policies are not where they need to be in order to ensure public safety. It was never my intent to discontinue block parties,” Brown said, “only to provide a win-win for the community & the applicant. Unfortunately, its easier to block a public street for a party of any type than it is to have that same event in a public park. We have a responsibility to ensure all events on public property is safe from the onset.”
Brown is interested in updates to Section 191 of the city code, which has to do with special events, and Section 664, which deals with parks.
Next week, a meeting is slated between Brown and representatives of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and from there the future of this bill will be more determined.