The Memphis City Council began a discussion Tuesday about changing the way that the city handles temporary closures of neighborhood streets for events like 5Ks.
Council member Reid Hedgepath said that people should be well-notified of events that temporary close city streets and have the opportunity to object.
He adds that some residents have concerns about being trapped in their homes as a result of their street being closed down for an event. He also said that a slew of business owners are displeased when street closures cause them to lose business for hours at a time.
Council members agreed that the main issue is not the events or the street closures, but the communication that precedes it.
The city’s permits administrator Aubrey Howard said that citizens who want to hold a public assembly that requires a street closure must apply through the permit office at least 14 business days ahead of the event.
But, the city’s chief operating officer, Doug McGowen said right now the city has no vehicle for notifying citizens of upcoming street closures or to voice opposition.
McGowen also said that the city has a “broad” approach to public assembly, explaining that retrieving permits for all types of events — from races to parades to weddings — require the same application process.
He said as the city looks at how to differentiate the processes based on types of events, it will also consider how other cities handle street closures.
“There is plenty of room for dialogue, but no definitive answer today,” McGowen said.
In the interim, council members floated the idea of event permits, especially those with opposition, going through the council before being granted.
Howard said as his office receives about 300 permit applications each year, the council would have to hear about 13 applications at each meeting.