City looks to change special events permitting process

City looks to change special events permitting process

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South by Southwest is in full swing, and as more events are held in Austin, the city is looking at changing the planning process for special events both big and small.

Right now we have one of the biggest events of the year going on in Austin, but there are hundreds of smaller events that take place throughout the year.

Currently the permitting process for events both big and small is the same across the board. But that may change.

Event planners with SXSW party, the Fader Fort, are getting ready to shut down part of east 5th Street and several others. It's not the only event taking place in the area.

"This is the Spotify live location for Spotify's showcase on Wednesday night," said event planner Lauren Burton.

As SXSW gets underway parties requiring city permits are popping up all over town.

"Went through our whole site plan, all of our safety measures and checked off all the boxes we need to to have a safe and successful event in the city," said Burton.

It may be time to change how these special events are permitted. Right now, a small block party that requires a road closure has to go through the same steps to get a permit from the city's transportation department as a big event like SXSW. The one-size-fits-all approach may not be the best one as more events are held in Austin.

According to the city, in 2012 there were 136 street event applications, 20 new one-time events and 227 event days.

All those events attracted more than 1.6 million participants. As Austin and the tourism industry continues to grow, the city is looking for feedback on how to change the special events ordinance.

"Having a cohesive conversation is great, not only for the city, but for event producers, everybody is on the same page, all departments are talking, it's crucial," Burton said.

The city is conducting a survey on this issue. To participate in the survey click here.

The Transportation Department hopes to present changes to the ordinance to city council by June.

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