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Parks and Rec to Discuss Depot Plaza Events Policy Update

The current regulations are considered 'overly restrictive,' and the Parks and Recreation Commission will talk about updating the ordinance at 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

Events in Depot Plaza are nothing new, but the policy that governs when and how often they occur may soon be. 

The Parks and Recreation Commission plans to update what it considers “overly restrictive” regulations at a study session during its regular meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Under the current ordinance:

  • Events may have no more than 50 participants
  • Six amplified music events per year
  • Event times restricted to 12 p.m. — 4 p.m.

However, the city hasn't exactly enforced those rules, according to the Recreation Director Jenny Rogers.

“In recent years, the Parks and Recreation Commission has not adhered to these restrictions as they have become outdated and out-of-step with the community’s desire for increased engagement with local events in the Plaza, and the need during the recent economic downturn, to support local businesses who are the lifeblood of the economic vitality of the town and its downtown corridor,” Rogers wrote.

The new ordinance would:

  • Eliminate the attendance cap of 50 people per event
  • Increase the cap on live amplified events with amplified restrictions placed in the rules and regulations policy
  • Change the time constraints on allowable amplified events from 12 p.m. — 4 p.m. to 11 a.m. — 8 p.m.

A previous attempt to change the rules in 2011 set off a debate in town. Some residents said the plaza should be open to events like flea markets and farmers markets, while others rejected the idea, saying the city shouldn't alter the existing ordiance that calls it "a park primarily for uses by the general public on a casual, unstructured basis.”

At the time, Parks and Rec held three public meetings, mailed notices to more than 80 property owners and businesses, and incorporated much of the public feedback into a new policy that was presented to the City Council at its January 17, 2012 meeting, Rogers said. 

“City Council had a number of excellent suggestions at its meeting last January that staff has attempted to incorporate into this latest revision draft,” Rogers wrote.

Approved uses for the past four years:

  • 2012: 14 approved events, 9 with amplified music/sound
  • 2011: 11 approved events, 8 with amplified music/sound
  • 2010: 14 approved events, 9 with amplified music/sound
  • 2009: 11 approved events, 7 with amplified music/sound

Annual events on the Plaza include:

  • The Art Commission’s Summer Concert Series
  • Comedy Night and Paint Off
  • The Chamber of Commerce’s Wine and Gourmet Festival
  • Winterfest

Along with special events by local organizations including:

  • The Bloom-A-Thon
  • Business Advisory Board
  • Dipsea Foundation
  • Mill Valley Film Festival
  • Mountain Play
  • Tam High Music Boosters
  • Youth Give

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Jack February 05, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Much agreement, thank you. As one who's resided a block from the plaza for the past 30 years, I encourage and support the people's greater utilization of the plaza, more live music, starting earlier, finishing later and enjoying more!
Rebecca Chapman February 05, 2013 at 10:14 PM
agree, agree! it's the obvious gathering spot, & as long as there are some controls in place so it doesn't become one more excuse for public drunkeness & lewd behavior (like that annual wine thingy), i think it would be great. especially if we (i mean, 'you'. i'm still leaving.) could include older residents, like from the redwoods, kids & parents. + people who don't fit into the usual categories, maybe we could all learn to get along a little better, & even enjoy some of each other's idiosyncrasies on occasion...
Lesa Carmean February 08, 2013 at 02:29 AM
Unfortunately, there is an under abundance of parking in the vicinity. Actually, everywhere in Mill Valley. Sadly, I for one am against any effort to encourage people to visit en mass or congregate in Mill Valley, except, perhaps at Tam High where there is a parking lot that may be empty for such a purpose and where, therefore, the event will not clog up every street in town with hapless drivers looking for parking, rude cyclists or runners in unattractive attire. Few of whom buying more than a bottle of water which they often forget to dispose of properly. Also, I've noticed that most events staged in Mill Valley may also be enjoyed elsewhere in Marin for free - and usually provide equal or higher quality diversion.

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