Outdoor event permitting process needs changing

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin plays host to hundreds of outdoor events every year, large and small. Music, running, arts and crafts, you name it.

But whether you are the organizer of an event, or just a neighbor who live nearby, the city recognizes changes need to be made to the permit process, the rules and regulations.

The Austin Center for Events, an combination of city agencies, held a public meeting Wednesday with residents to see what they thought.

“One stop shopping for the approval review process is important,” said Ann Graham, who has produced some events in town. “Notifications need to be extended to residents because people know when these events are happening, and the process must be transparent.”

The city formalized an event ordinance in 2012 but everyone seems to agree that it could use some streamlining. It left a lot of red tape, one-size-fits-all permits, and the issue of closed streets, amplified bands and sufficient notices.

“The city is a big events city and at some point we have to look at the cost and benefits,” conceded Francis Hargrove, Austin Special Events manager. “I would hate to see any event go away but after awhile we only have so much room.”

Ingrid Weigand is involved with her Bouldin Neighborhood Association and she sees the problems first hand.

“I think it’s part of the growing pains,” she said. “The city is so excited about all these people wanting to come here they haven’t quite reached the stage to say how much is enough.”

Most residents enjoy one kind of an event or another themselves and they recognize the benefits to them and the city, but they don’t want to see Austin become just one big sand box for anyone to come and play as they please.

“We live here, we pay taxes here, we work here,” Weigand said. “We play here and we want to enjoy the city too.”

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