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Martinez Special Events Up for Discussion

by CC News
Martinez Special Events 4th of July

On Wednesday, the City of Martinez will hold a special meeting to discuss its Special Event Policy and Special Events for 2024.

The council is being asked to receive a report, hold a discussion, and provide feedback on the Martinez special events for 2024 after 2023 saw an increase in events—including 11 city organized events which included the Youth Baseball Parade, Waterfront Egg Hunt, Memorial Day, 4th of July Parade & Fireworks, Pumpkin Dunkin, Veterans Day, and Holiday Frolic.

The city is also proposing two new events for 2024:

  • Movies in the Park Series at an estimated cost of $5k (June 29, July 27, Aug 24)
  • Diversity Festival at a estimated cost of $30k  (September 2024)

According to staff, in 2023, facilitated the permitting for 120 Martinez special events organized by external entities, averaging 10 events per month, and representing a total of 49 unique events. The total number of events reflects a 57% increase from 2022. Excluding the Sunday Farmers’ Market, there were a total of 68 special events. The attached list details the types of events, which cover a diverse range of interests such as sports, holidays, retail, food, cultural recognition, and various special occasions.

For the main annual City events in 2023, rough estimates on attendance include the following:

  • Between 20,000 and 25,000 attendees at the King of the County BBQ Competition
  • Between 1,500 and 3,000 attendees at the weekly Farmers’ Market
  • 2,500 attendees at the Bay Area Craft Beer Festival
  • 3,500 attendees at the Open Air Markets
  • 3,000 attendees at the 4th of July Parade
  • 5,000 attendees at the 4th of July Fireworks show
  • 2,500 attendees at the Halloween Spooktacular

The council will discuss special event policy which includes some groups being eligible to be granted first opportunity to reserve dates, times and locations:

The order of priority for scheduling is as follows:

  1. Martinez Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Martinez & Company
  2. Martinez Unified School District and Mount Diablo Unified School District
  3. Non-profit Community Groups with 501(c) status, in good standing with the State, that have received funding from the City for three out of the past five years or have hosted a special event in Martinez for at least five of the past seven years

According to the staff report, given the escalating number of special events and changing dynamics in the City, coupled with a significant amount of new staff recruitment’s, the timing is appropriate for a comprehensive review of the special event policy, the application process, and the number of events supported annually.

Council will Discuss its Priority Scheduling & Preferred Status Policy:

Additionally, the Priority Scheduling and Preferred Status Policy grants preferred special event status to the Martinez Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Martinez & Company (formerly known as Main Street Martinez). This status prohibits outside parties from holding similar special events in the same area six weeks prior and six weeks after any event organized by these entities.

The rationale behind this preference is to support the economic vitality brought by these groups and the City’s longstanding history of financial and resource support for them. However, the current Preferred Status Policy has proven restrictive, hindering diverse and cultural events, and newer and more actively engaged local businesses or organizations from the opportunity to collaborate and host or sponsor events. This limitation arises from the fact that the Martinez Chamber and Downtown Martinez & Company may lack the resources to support these types of events. It is evident that the policy, while well-intentioned, inadvertently curtails the involvement of dynamic and emerging local businesses in contributing to the community’s event landscape.

Once all items are submitted, the completed application undergoes review by all City departments, with final approval required from the City Manager. Upon approval, the permit is issued to the organizer. Throughout the process, staff maintains regular correspondence with applicants, offering guidance from submission to permit issuance.

Historically, there is no charge for special event applications for events under 1,000 people, which encompasses most events in the City. For larger events, the application fee is $250 for 1,000 attendees, $625 for 2,500 attendees, and $1,250 for 5,000 attendees.

Further, the Martinez Unified School District, Mount Diablo Unified School District, and the City’s partner non-profit economic development organizations, the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Martinez & Company, are exempt from fees and deposits, excluding costs for Reserve Police Officer reservations.

While the City’s Master Fee Schedule specifies rates for Public Works and Police staff members, these fees are currently not charged to organizers when services are provided.

  • Public Works services include set-up or clean-up tasks, such as barricade usage, bathroom preparations, garbage pick-up, and public area set-up/clean-up. On average, 2-4 hours of Public Works time is dedicated to one event.
  • Police services are determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the event’s type and size.

Despite the challenges posed by a public safety staffing crisis, the City has not turned down any large-scale events, which is placing increased demands on City resources.

The City says with the dramatic increase of new events, organizers and staff, there is a need to reevaluate the Special Event Policy in an effort to streamline the process, increase equity, improve cost recovery, while appropriately managing the available City resources. Staff’s findings and recommendations include:

  1. Finding: The Priority Scheduling and Preferred Status Policy does not align with the City’s interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion, conflicting with the goal of increasing access to City services for all individuals. It further hinders business event collaboration efforts.

    Recommendation: Rescind the Priority Scheduling and Preferred Status Policy in favor of implementing an annual scheduling process that allows anyone to apply without a specific order of preference. Conflicts will be decided by staff, vetted against new criteria aligning with Council Goals.

  1. Finding: The current policy contains too many exceptions and criteria, making it challenging for staff to understand, implement, and enforce accurately and fairly.

    Recommendation: Streamline the policy and application process by creating objective standards that clearly delineate criteria for approval. This simplification aims to reduce the likelihood of errors and mishaps by both staff and organizers. Additionally, aligning the goals for special events with the proposed applications will further enhance the overall effectiveness of the process.

  1. Finding: The length and complexity of the application overwhelms external organizers, resulting in heightened correspondence and meetings with applicants. Partially completed applications are frequently submitted, requiring staff to proactively track down necessary information.

    Recommendation: Implement a streamlined online application that mandates completion of all fields before submission. This initiative aims to streamline the process for both staff and organizers, ensuring a more efficient and comprehensive application procedure.

  1. Finding: The 40-day application submission timeframe is inadequate for staff to thoroughly vet and approve applications. The compressed timeline prioritizes this workload, causing frustration and stress for staff members and often competes with other responsibilities. This urgency also restricts event organizers from promoting their events without prior approval.

    Recommendation: Institute a minimum 90-day application firm submission requirement, consistent with neighboring jurisdictions, is respective of City staff workloads and other permitting timelines.

  1. Finding: The absence of limiting the number of special events held in a calendar year poses a significant public safety risk, raises concerns about span of control, and imposes budget constraints.

    Recommendation: Introduce a monthly limit on special events to ensure efficient support for organizers without overwhelming public safety, public works, and recreation resources.

  1. Finding: Special events contribute to damage in public areas and frequently leave behind substantial amounts of trash and litter.

    Recommendation: Strengthen maintenance and sustainability provisions in the policy, compelling organizers to formulate and execute a comprehensive trash and sustainability plan.

  1. Finding: There is currently no cost recovery in place for special events, such as application review, barricade placement/pick-up, utilization of the City power source, cleaning and preparing bathrooms, and conducting site walk-throughs.

    Recommendation: Staff will track and evaluate expenses and resources for special events in 2024 to reassess fees for 2025. Respondents to a poll conducted of East Bay cities indicated that all cities charge at minimum an application fee and application modification fees.

City-Organized Special Events Calendar for 2024

  • Feb 23 – Health Fair
  • March 2 – Youth Baseball Parade
  • March 30 – Waterfront Egg Hunt
  • April 26 – Arbor Day
  • July 4 – July 4th Parade & Fireworks
  • October 4 – Homecoming Parade
  • October 13 – Pumpkin Dunkin
  • October 30 – Candy Hunt
  • November 11 – Veterans Day
  • December 6 – Holiday Frolic
  • December 6-7 – Frosty’s Holiday Boutique

Proposed New Events

  • Movies in the Park Series (June 29, July 27, Aug 24) – Not funded $5k
  • Diversity Festival (September 2024) – Not funded at $30k

Agenda & Documents:

For upcoming events around Contra Costa County, visit our events calendar.

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1 comment

D January 20, 2024 - 9:22 am

Oh boy prepare for the lawsuits and demonstrations when no one is happy or does get their special event.

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