By Sarah Owens and Michael Livingston
|SRC Chapter 104 to require meal distribution permits|
Ten weeks ago, the City Manager told City Council that staff would be re-evaluating the City's meal distributions permit process over the next 30 days and that, "[t]he goal of the evaluation is to determine if there are better ways of managing the meal distributions...to help prevent unreasonable interference with public health, welfare, safety and recreation." See "Meals Under Bridge on Shutdown."
A Food Task Force was formed and met three times before reaching a rough consensus on March 7 on a set of recommendations to send to City Council. See "Under Bridge Off the Table (Final)." Draft recommendations were sent to the task force on March 13, and a draft staff report went to the City Manager on March 27. The draft report includes a statement that "amendments to SRC 104 Parades and Community Events will be forthcoming...better clarifying the need for reservations and permits [for food and sundry distributions]."
|Food Task Force Meeting 1|
But, even when questioned on the point during the first Task Force meeting, staff were unable to cite to a specific code provision. Instead of answering the question, staff directed the Task Force's attention to the general provisions of SRC 94 and to the City's general authority to regulate activities in parks and rights of way.
At the second meeting, still unable to cite to any specific code provision, staff informed the Task Force that they might want to recommend amending the City code to "clarify" the need for a permit.
For an example of a specific code provision requiring a permit, see SRC Chapter 104, section 104.030, which provides, in pertinent part, that "a community event permit shall be obtained...for the following activities:
(a) An activity or event consisting of persons, animals, vehicles, or any combination thereof, which is to assemble or travel in unison on any public right-of-way...
(b) Any activity or event that the organizer expects or intends to involve 200 or more persons assembling on public property.
(c) Any activity or event on public property which requires the placement of a tent, canopy, or other temporary structure, if such placement requires a permit from the City's Fire Department or Building and Safety Division." (Emphasis added.)
Subsection (b) above comes closer to requiring a permit for meal distributions than anything under SRC Chapter 94 (or anything else we could find in any other section of the code). (SRC Chapter 94 is under Title VIII -- offenses.) But meal organizers don't "expect or intend" to feed 200 people. More like 100. Perhaps the City plans to amend subsection (b) to require a permit for events involving, say 100, instead of 200 persons, so as to cover meal distributions? Or maybe 75 or 50 or 25, so as to cover sundries distributions? But, who would think to look under Title IX to see if a permit is required for such activities?
|Photo courtesy Sarah Vick|
In the meantime, meals continue to be served in the parking lot of 615 Commercial Street, reportedly under MWVCAA's site permit. See Benevolent Meal Site Info Guide.