City Makes It Easier to Create Block Parties, Open Streets Events

Date:

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the Council voted on new rules to make it easier to hold block parties and to plan up to four open streets events (COAST) per year. To fast forward to the portion of the meeting on this discussion on YouTube, click here.

Under the old rules, to apply for a street closure necessary for a block party; organizers had to get ⅔ of residents along the route to sign a petition. While well organized neighborhood groups could often make that requirement; the number was nigh impossible in areas where apartment buildings ballooned the number of signatures needed. 

The new requirement reduces the requirement to 51% of signatures from residents and businesses in single-family neighborhoods. In multi-family neighborhoods, the signature requirement is dropped to 25%. If the block party would be along a business corridor, the petition could be submitted by a Business Improvement District (BID) and the signature requirement would be waived. The cost for applications and permits, after the city waives some of the fees for other street closures, is “about $100.” Given the reduced number of signatures needed, the city will now require 5-day notice ahead of time before the street is closed, an increase from two days.

Community Groups are already working to take advantage of the new rule. In an email to members, the Ocean Park Association announced that, “OPA and Main St are already working together to plan the return of Sharing an Open Main St in August, September and October this year.” At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilmember Christine Parra mentioned that the Pico Neighborhood is planning an event as well.

For Open Streets Events, the new rules allows city staff to plan up to four Open Streets Events a year on Fridays, weekends or holidays without needing City Council to vote on each event separately. It is also possible for the city to approve an Open Streets Event that is sponsored, but not programmed by the city, opening the door for organizations such as CicLAvia to program an event in Santa Monica. To submit an application, organizers (either the city or an independent organizer), must have 51% of the signatures of residents and businesses along the route. 

“We want to encourage the open streets. These have been really positive events to bring locals and tourists alike to our city. It’s a chance to bring increased foot traffic, economic recovery and showing the vibrant city that we are,” said Councilmember Carolyn Torosis.

 The last such event was COAST held in September of 2019.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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