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August 31, 2010 > County adopts ordinance for special events

County adopts ordinance for special events

Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell and Lingxia Meng

On August 24, 2010, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors adopted an Ordinance for special events on County roads and approved a permit fee schedule. The Ordinance provides a process for event organizers and the County to manage special events to reduce impacts on residents and to ensure everyone's safety. County staff will report back to the Board in September 2011 about the efficacy of the Ordinance and potential amendments.

The Ordinance is the result of a two-year effort during which County staff met with various stakeholders including the Valley Transportation Authority's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and San Antonio Valley residents to discuss safety issues and neighborhood concerns. Stakeholders' concerns are addressed in the Ordinance, including the Good Neighbor Standards that reflect residents' needs in the area east of the Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton in the Diablo range, which is subject to numerous special events throughout the year.

"The Ordinance is designed to protect the safety of both event patrons and road users and ensure impacted neighbors receive advance notice of events," said Supervisor Don Gage. "It's also important that the Board re-visit this Ordinance in a year to see if it's working as intended."

Special events addressed include parades, street fairs, festivals, block parties, organized athletic or sporting events, and community celebrations. Depending on the types of activities, event holders will be required to obtain a special permit and pay a fee. The fees only reflect the cost of providing permit review and issuance. Examples of special events and associated fees are: Block Party (a festive gathering that requires road closure) - $98; Minor Special Event (an event with more than 50 people and less than 500 people not requiring closure of road or traffic diversion) - $200; Expressive Activity (First Amendment protected conduct) - $200 and Major Special Event (event that requires road closure or with more than 500 people) - Actual cost

Funeral processions by a licensed mortuary or funeral home that consist of fewer than 200 people and do not block traffic are exempted from the permit requirements.

"The emergence of signature events, such as the Tour of California cycling event prompted the County to review the adequacy of the current Ordinance," said Sylvia Gallegos, Deputy County Executive. "We need to make sure special events on County Roads are planned in a way that is safe and enjoyable for all."

Event organizers can request a permit application by mail at County of Santa Clara Roads and Airports, Encroachment Permit Issuance Unit, 70 West Hedding Street, 7th Floor, East Wing, San Jose. They can also apply by calling (408) 573-2402, or fax at (408) 947-1165.

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