One Year After Special Events Changes, Park City Council Reflects On Policy

Sep 11, 2019

Credit Park City Municipal

The Park City Council will receive an update on the city’s special events process as well as a debrief of one of the city’s largest events this year, the FIS World Championship. 

Park City changed its special events policy last year to address what Economic Development Manager Jonathan Weidenhamer describes as “event fatigue.” The city organized an advisory committee with input from residents and came up with strategies to reduce the impact of events on the community. Weidenhamer says part of that included ranking events from one to five based on their size and then limiting the number of larger events. Weidenhamer describes other measures taken.

“We did deregulate events at resorts. We said, 'hey, you know, up to level three, if there's no public safety, transportation impacts, the resorts are meant to do this. They've got restrooms and parking lots and staff, so we're not going to worry about that,'" Weidenhamer said. "Then we said, 'hey, there's a lot of peak times where we're already loaded, the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend. We don't need to approve any more events during that time.' Then we set up a what I call a facilitating process, so the new events are reviewed against each other. So, some new ones come in, you're going to compete for a new time with other events that want to come in.” 

Weidenhamer says the city has turned down several event applications to focus more on events that are community-based. He says there were 14 events from last year that didn’t make the cut in 2019.

“We've told people that have been here for years you don't meet the new criteria, and it's not going to work anymore for you," Weidenhamer said. "And there's a number that are at resort bases that don't really need permits, and so we feel like we're rowing in the same direction of council’s expectation and community goals.”

The staff report mentions further action to mitigate event impacts, including restricting any level of event during the July Fourth peak weekend and weaning special events off fee reductions for city services by 2023. One level-five event that received a substantial fee reduction was the 2019 FIS World Championship. The World Championship applied for $222,000 in fee reductions for transportation, public safety and other services, but Weidenhamer says the actual fees cost $155,000.

“We were able to plan for this event three years in advance,  so we knew that there was going to be a pretty substantial hit," Weidenhamer said. "We worked pretty hard with our budget folks and transit folks and police folks to project what that was, and that was in the name of the council understanding our ongoing commitment to world-class athletics and the resort bases and our place in the resort economy.”

The city council is scheduled to discuss special events policy during a work session Thursday at 5:25 p.m., while the FIS World Championship debrief by staff, the Park City Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Ski and Snowboard is planned for council’s regular meeting, starting at 6 p.m.