New bill to remove barriers to events in public places

New bill to remove barriers to events in public places

Nonprofit event organizers look forward to streamlined application process –

There were a lot of questions last month at the second of three Nonprofit Forums when the City’s Risk Management Division met with community stakeholders, nonprofit organizations, businesses, local officials and City Council members.

In recent months, Risk Management has heard concerns from numerous event organizers about how the City Ordinance Code imposes burdensome and cost-prohibitive regulations on their ability to hold special events here in Jacksonville, according to Chris Hand, Chief of Staff, Office of Mayor Alvin Brown.
At the Oct. 14 meeting, solutions were shared that addressed concerns that the City’s insurance code requirements can be cost-prohibitive and burdensome to event holders.

The answers were mostly received with a sigh of relief from event organizers. The small staff in the Office of Special Events has been unable to keep up with the large number of event applications and requests for information; streamlining the process will help break the logjam and get event approvals done more quickly – as long as the event organizer has all his ducks in a row.

The current ordinance requires that organizers and any
subcontractors provide proof of insurance to the City. Although those insurance requirements will not be changed or waived, the burden of making sure that vendors are in compliance will be put on the event organizer, not on the Office of Special Events. In the past, any delay in providing such assurances of compliance would also delay the event planner’s ability to begin to market the event.

The Mayor’s Office has filed legislation [2013-695] to ease the burden of ordinance requirements on organizers and vendors hosting special events. The proposed legislation modifies insurance regulations, gives further discretion to city officials and allows for quicker approval of permits for events.

“Since Mayor Brown is committed to making our community as vibrant as possible, Risk Manager Twane Duckworth led an effort to streamline the event requirements,” stated Hand in an email. “This legislation is the result of his consultations with stakeholders both inside (such as the Office of Special Events) and outside the City (such as the Riverside Arts Market, Downtown Vision, and JAX Chamber).”

• Barriers removed •
The proposed legislation aims to allow further discretion by the Sheriff’s Office, Fire & Rescue and Risk Management regarding public safety and insurance requirements; provide clearer qualifications for special events; provide quicker conditional approvals for permits, and allow payment for City personnel costs closer to the event date.

In addition, proposed modifications for insurance requirements includes the elimination of the waiver of subrogation requirement – which was a major obstacle for event organizers – and requiring automobile coverage only when use is more than incidental to the event.
Risk Manager Twane Duckworth provided the following statement regarding the removal of one major hurdle: The Waiver of Subrogation is an explicit statement that bars insurance companies from seeking reimbursement for a claim the insurance company has paid. Event organizers are still required to list the city as an additional insured party on their policies for events, which the Risk Management Office says is sufficient protection for the city. The elimination of the waiver removes an additional barrier for event organizers.

Insurance requirements include, at a minimum, commercial general liability (including property damage, products/completed operations aggregate (the most that will be paid for all covered losses in that policy period arising from product liability or completed operations liability claims), premises, operations and blanket contractual liability) for $1,000,000 each occurrence and $2,000,000 general aggregate and the City of Jacksonville must be named as an additional insured under this coverage.

Many events include the serving of alcoholic beverages, such as the fundraiser for Memorial Park renovations sponsored by Intuition Aleworks early last month. That type of event requires additional liquor liability insurance of $1,000,000 combined single limit.

Daniel Miller, agent with Brightway Insurance, 2104 Park Street, provided some ballpark insurance costs for a single event that a nonprofit would need to purchase. Based on the minimum commercial general liability plus a liquor liability, for events which attract 200 to 2000 people, the estimated cost is around $400, give or take a few dollars. Even if the expected attendance were to jump to 20,000, the basic cost is less than $700, according to Miller.

However, that estimate would change if other requirements were added, such as motor vehicles, aircraft, watercraft used for any activity associated with the special event: if any services or activities of a professional nature are provided or if child care services are provided in connection with the event.

The bill is currently scheduled to be before Council committees during the week of Nov. 18, according to Hand.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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