Block Party Moratorium First Step In Reforming Jacksonville’s Permitting Process

Mar 22, 2017

From right to left: Councilman Reggie Brown and Councilman Scott Wilson
Credit Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Jacksonville is one step closer to temporarily halting certain kinds of block parties across the city.

City leaders from law enforcement, the parks department and City Council hashed out ways to reform the permitting process Wednesday.


Councilman Reggie Brown is spearheading the effort. His moratorium would only affect residential neighborhoods. Events in downtown, Five Points or San Marco Square would remain legal, as they are commercial districts.

Brown said he wants to hit the pause button to study the issue after receiving numerous complaints from law enforcement and his northwest Jacksonville constituents.

“Individuals would call because of parking situations. They did not agree with the block party and somebody parked in their yard and now they can't get out,” he said. “The restroom facilities were an issue, the time the music was allowed to be played — all those things were concerns by neighbors.”

Currently, party organizers have two different methods for getting city approval to shut down roads for festivities. If attendance is expected to exceed 500 people in a commercial area, they’d have to fill out a road closure or special event form that goes through the city’s Public Works Department and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Smaller parties in residential neighborhoods just require a public works form, but no vetting by law enforcement.

“Our other process is street closures,” Brown said. “So, once you come down and fill out that application process, we’re able to vet what it is you need. So, there’s a distinct difference.”

Brown said he’s also considering addressing large parties in places like vacant lots, but he received some pushback from Council President Lori Boyer, who said she’s concerned about infringing on people’s rights. Boyer said as long as a property owner does not violate noise ordinances or commit parking violations, they have the right to assemble on their own land.

She also said she wants to make sure that certain, long-running community events remain unaffected.

Brown’s moratorium is up for a full council vote Tuesday.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.