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Publish Date: 5/11/2005

Boulder tightens block party rules


BOULDER — Residents who want to host a community block party will need permission from five different city departments and must follow stringent new guidelines, according to new municipal procedures unveiled last week.

“There wasn’t much in the way of limitations prior to this,” city clerk Alisa Lewis said Monday. “We’ve created a tighter review process from our end.”

The new rules will allow the city to begin accepting block party applications for the first time since Oct. 30, when police broke up a permitted block party in part because they had not seen the permit. The crowd, which gathered on 10th Street between College and Pennsylvania avenues on University Hill, did not disperse and eventually engaged police in a riot.

Under the new rules, applications must be approved by the city’s police, fire, transportation and environmental enforcement departments, Lewis said.

Officials also added a few new rules that will prevent large, rowdy gatherings.

Alcohol is prohibited on public property, parties must end by 10 p.m. and special permission will be required for parties of more than 100 people. All applications must be submitted at least 30 days before a planned event.

The amount of paperwork involved in filing for a block party ballooned under the new rules, growing from two pages to 10.

The new guidelines will be helpful, but it’s inaccurate to say the Oct. 30 riot was the fault of a poorly designed block party application, Lewis said.

“The person holding the party didn’t maintain control,” Lewis said. “That’s not the permit’s fault.”

Before the Oct. 30 party, no one at the city manager’s office notified police of the city-sanctioned party. Patrol officers, unaware of the permit, ordered organizers to break up the party.

The hosts moved the event inside several houses on the block, but crowds on the street did not disperse, according to police.

The crowd started a bonfire, overturned cars and hurled rocks at police, who responded by firing tear gas canisters at the rioters. Police estimate the damage and cleanup bill at more than $40,000, according to Brooks.

No one in the city manager’s office was reprimanded for the oversight.

However, a judge fined residents from five houses next to the block party site between $400 and $500 each for holding “nuisance parties.”

The new system should eliminate the type of miscommunication that left officers unaware of the Oct. 30 party, police spokeswoman Julie Brooks said.

“When you have those checks and balances, it will prevent that kind of mix-up,” Brooks said.

A Boulder police officer will likely work with party planners before a scheduled event so that parties go smoothly in the future, she said.

Brad Turner can be reached at 720-494-5420, or by e-mail at bturner@times-call.com.

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