Council discusses public events


Of the Keizertimes

The second Keizer City Council meetings in August are usually a low-key affair with little to discuss. That was not the case with the Monday, Aug. 21 meeting, which ran for more than three hours.

Communications and emergencies took up the bulk of the meeting. A lengthy discussion  about an ordinance regarding parades and special events in the city. The proposed updated ordinance would add amendments that address special event permitting processes, especially for events that last more than one day, and incorporating public participation.

At issue was how event organizers communicate with households that could be impacted by a multiple-day event, such as the Miracle of Christmas lighting display in the Gubser neighborhood.

City staff will bring back an updated ordinance to the council in September, incorporating comments and ideas discussed at Monday’s meeting.

Mayor Cathy Clark said the onus is on event applicants to reach out to all households concerned. That opened discussion amongst the councilors on how that can be done, via social media and other communication means.

A main factor is the number of houses that have a ‘no solicitation’ sign. 

Councilor Soraida Cross said that outreach needs to be clarified, saying that one person’s definition of outreach may not be the same as another person.

Councilor Robert Husseman asked how to communicate with people who don’t want to be communicated with. 

In the Miracle of Christmas lighting display event, there are more than 3,000 houses in the impacted area. Going door-to-door to get a petition signed by homeowners is a major endeavor.

It was suggested that the application process for such events include how the organizers communicated with impacted households. 

Councilor Shaney Starr said that the process of community outreach should be “clear, concise and defined.” She also sought a definition of “no solicitation.”

Patti Tischer, president of the Greater Gubser Neighborhood Association, questioned the event application deadline of 90 days prior to the event.

“It’s crunch time. Ninety days would be Sept. 1,” said Tischer. 

The mayor countered that the proposed ordinance is a work in process. There were varying deadlines for applications, 45, 60 and 90 days prior to the event. That will be ironed out by city staff before it is presented to the council again next month.

The proposed ordinance addresses parades, special events and temporary closure of streets for block parties. That includes such things as the lighting display in the Gubser neighborhood, the annual McNary Estates garage sale and National Night Out block parties.

Before the event ordinance discussion, City Manager Adam Brown, unveiled the Keizer Emergency Management State of Prepardness. The council is asked to establish the Keizer Emergency Planning Committee to update the plan.  The original resolution tasked a committee to implement, test and refine the policy.

“When I first came here, emergency management was the hot potato nobody wanted,” said Brown.

The comprehensive plan includes the National Incident Management System (NIMS), developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Incident Command System (ICS).

Partners with Keizer’s emergency plan are the Marion County Emergency Managment (all of the city’s efforts go through the county), Salem-Keizer School District emergency operations, Chemeketa Emergency Management, Cherriots Emergency Management and Keizer’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

Radio communication during an emergency is key, but as Brown reported, the radio hub at city hall is not functioning and will cost more than $7,000 to get it into working order.

Keizer’s emergency plan has not been revised since 2008 and it needs to be updated.

Emergencies considered are natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes, as well as cyber attacks, terrorism, civil disorder and biological/chemical threats.

The council also discussed directing city staff to develop a plan for operating businesses in parks and other public spaces.

There have been inquiries from businesses that want to have a cart at parks to sell goods, such as coffee. Current regulations do not allow businesses to operate in city parks without a special permit or a contract with the city.

Councilors discussed what types of business could be allowed to operate in city parks. Consensus was that if the idea moved forward it should initially be limited to food and beverage vendors and in three parks only: Keizer Rapids Park, Claggett Creek Park and Chalmers Jones Park at Keizer Civic Center.

Details of any resolution will be drafted by city staff after policy input from the city council, including a permitting process, the types of vendors allowed and how long a vendor such as a food truck or a coffee cart would be permitted to be on site.

Opening the discussion City Attorney Shannon Johnson said, “The purpose of the parks is not a place to have a bunch of businesses and there is a concern about too much commercialization of what is a recreational facility.”

Vendors would be required to have insurance and a permit from the city as well as any required permits from the Marion County Health Department regarding food and beverage sales.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 5, a day late due to the Labor Day holiday on Monday, Sept. 4.

City Manager Adam Brown