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July 15, 2013

Turlock Now: Block parties to stay free

Council wants to drop fee plan and insurance requirements for street closures.

Block party enthusiasts, rejoice. 

The Turlock City Council wants to keep your street closures fee-free and potentially drop pricey requirements for additional insurance. The issue was brought to city staff’s attention after a risk management class prompted a careful rereading of the Municipal Code. It showed street closures should require applicants carry some $1 million in liability insurance.

The city approves 30 to 40 street closure applications annually for block parties celebrating everything from Fourth of July to National Night Out. No fee has every been charged to apply for a street closure permit, but since June 17, the city has requires residents to have the insurance, which can run up to $150 to $200 depending on the insurer.

Councilman Bill DeHart worried a fee and added insurance requirement would dampen community spirit.

“The ultimate price is we have citizens who will no longer participate because it’s too expensive,” he said.

At greatest issue was whether not requiring any insurance put the city on the hook for lawsuits and damages if someone or someone’s property were at such an event. 

While the council did not vote on the issue, members recommended staff come back with an amendment to the municipal code dropping the insurance requirement and instead asking applicants to sign a liability waiver. So expect to see the issue return at an upcoming council meeting.

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