Sunday, August 04, 2019

City will consider new "special events" permits

From the city's web site:

The City of La Crosse is proposing updated policies and procedures for permitting special events held within the City beginning January 1, 2020.

The City’s goal is to encourage and help coordinate special community events, while regulating these events in a positive manner to ensure the health and safety of participants at the event, efficient management of City services and the protection of public lands and facilities.

The proposal will be discussed at the Board of Public Works meeting on Monday, August 12, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. in the 5th Floor Conference Room.  The proposed legislation is expected to then be presented to the Judiciary & Administration Committee and Common Council in the September 2019 cycle of meetings.

Below are links to documents detailing the proposed policies and procedures:
If you have questions or seek additional information, please contact Nikki in the City Clerk’s Office at (608) 789-7555 or email at (Note:  I will be out of the office August 5 - 9, 2019.)

Does this mean that a demonstration or vigil or group visibility event needs a permit with an application 60 days in advance and proof of insurance? Do city permit regulations interfere with First Amendment rights?

The ACLU says,
"Do I need a permit before I engage in free speech activity?   
Not usually. However, certain types of events require permits. Generally, these  events are:
• A march or parade that does not stay on the sidewalk, and other events
that require blocking traffic or street closure
• A large rally requiring the use of sound amplifying devices; or
• A rally at certain designated parks or plazas
Many permit procedures require that the application be filed several weeks in  advance of the event. However, the First Amendment prohibits such an advance  notice requirement from being used to prevent rallies or demonstrations that are
rapid responses to unforeseeable and recent events. Also, many permit ordinances give a lot of discretion to the police or city officials to impose
conditions on the event, such as the route of a march or the sound levels of  amplification equipment. Such restrictions may violate the First Amendment if  they are unnecessary for traffic control or public safety, or if they interfere
significantly with effective communication with the intended audience. A permit  cannot be denied because the event is controversial or will express unpopular views. 
If organizers have not obtained a permit, where can a march take place? 
If marchers stay on the sidewalks and obey traffic and pedestrian signals, their activity is constitutionally protected even without a permit. Marchers may be  required to allow enough space on the sidewalk for normal pedestrian traffic and
may not maliciously obstruct or detain passers-by.
May I distribute leaflets and other literature on public sidewalks? 
Yes. You may approach pedestrians on public sidewalks with leaflets, newspapers, petitions and solicitations for donations without a permit. Tables may also be set up on sidewalks for these purposes if sufficient room is left for  pedestrians to pass. These types of free speech activities are legal as long as  entrances to buildings are not blocked and passers-by are not physically and
maliciously detained. However, a permit may be required to set up a table.
Do I have a right to picket on public sidewalks?Yes, and this is also an activity for which a permit is not required. However, picketing must be done in an orderly, non-disruptive fashion so that pedestrians can pass by and entrances to buildings are not blocked.
Read more at the ACLU's site.

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