LONG BEACH - At a special meeting of the Long Beach City Council last week, the council adopted an ordinance revising the city tent use policy.
In July 2005 the city adopted an ordinance which established a fee for the use of the tents. The city was required to take this action because city employees were often used to set up and take down the tents. Their labor, by law, is considered to be public funds that can not be "gifted," or given away for free.
The July 2005 ordinance required a $100 deposit, a $100 fee and required the city crew to put up and take down the tent, and organizations could not do the set up/take down themselves.
But the city received complaints about the ordinance. Some not-for-profits felt they could not afford the fee or that the money could better be used in other ways. The requirement that city crew set up/take down the tents also created scheduling conflicts and put heavy demands on the crew's time. It takes about two hours for four people to set up/take down the 20x30-foot tents.
The cost for the city to set up and take down the tents, based on labor and time is $200 for the 20x30-foot tents and $300 for the tall dome tents.
So the city council attempted to find a compromise. City Administrator Robert Strope said the new ordinance strikes a balance between protecting the city's property and promoting events.
The compromise was reached when Council member Fred Cook suggested reducing the fee and allowing the groups to set up the tents themselves under the supervision of a city crewmember. For events within the city limits put on by nonprofits or events deemed to be a public benefit, the fee will be $25 with a $100 deposit. Outside the city limits the fee will be $50.
Groups still have the option of having the city crew set up the tent rather than do it themselves, but then the fee is $150 within the city limits and $300 outside of the city limits.
Organizations are asked to request the tents 30 days in advance. If a request is denied based on the judgement that the event is not considered to be of public benefit or closed to the public, the decision can be appealed in writing to the city council 10 before their next meeting.
Mayor Ken Ramsey told Cook he gets a gold star for coming up with a compromise which will still promote city goodwill while protecting city property and following the law.