TURLOCK — Just in time for National Night Out, the Turlock City Council has given free street closure permits a big thumbs up.
Earlier this month the council had been informed that the city was considering charging a fee for street closure permits. The fee was to offset costs of processing the newly enforced code that said all street closure applicants must carry some $1 million in liability insurance.
City staff realized the requirement in the city’s municipal code after attending a risk management class earlier this year. The additional coverage costs applicants between $150 to $200 depending on the circumstances and insurer.
Cut council members were worried about the chilling effect requiring such insurance, let alone charging a fee, would have on block parties and overall community spirit.
So last week the council voted unanimously to suspend the insurance requirement for all National Night Out events and instead ask applicants to sign a liability waiver. City Manager Roy Wasden said a fully amended city ordinance dropping the insurance requirement will go to council in the future.
The item drew some public backing as well, as Turlock residents encouraged the council to drop the expensive requirements.
Turlock resident Melody Remington said she had a block party over Fourth of July weekend.
“Our whole block got together and I think it is an important thing to happen in this community to get to know your neighbors,” she said. “But I think it’s weird to have a huge insurance policy on a block party when it’s just a few hours.”
So far there are 27 registered block parties in Turlock for National Night Out, up from 23 last year. But not all the events require street closures. The city regularly approves 30 to 40 street closure applications annually.
This year’s National Night Out event from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 6, which encourages neighbors to get out and socialize to help prevent crime. Neighbors host block parties, cook out, ice cream socials and the like to get to know each other better.
Residents without a block party to attend are invited to the community National Night Out event hosted by Turlock Recreation during that same time in Columbia Park.
Turlock resident David Larson applauded the move, saying it would help keep the city’s core character in tact.
“I think one of the things that makes Turlock great is desire to get our of our homes and connect as neighbors,” he said. “I think any fees and insurance policies become sticking points and obstacles. The more we get together the more those walls come down and Turlock can remain a community of people sticking together.”