St Augustine park and venue regulation may get a vote next Monday

During the recent meeting of the St Augustine City Commission, the mayor and commissioners voted unanimously to move an ordinance to its final reading and public hearing.  The wide-ranging ordinance regulates city parks, venues, and facilities, and would affect things such as group feedings, and assemblies.

The final reading and a public hearing needed to enact the proposed ordinance could be heard as early as next Monday, March 23, 2020, at 5:00 p.m., when the city commissioners meet again in open session.

  • The ordinance would require a permit for assemblies on city rights-of-way and at city parks or venues with more than 50 people in attendance that require a closure to maintain the safe flow of pedestrians or traffic. That would include demonstrations, concerts, and ceremonies.

The ordinance has a long list of prohibited activities for city-owned or controlled parks, venues, and facilities.  The prohibited activities would include, among other things:

  • lying on a table
  • hanging a hammock
  • sleeping or hanging out in bushes
  • building a shelter
  • leaving personal property unattended
  • setting a fire outside of approved fire pits
  • cooking where it is not allowed
  • picking flowers
  • putting up signs
  • bathing in a water fountain or reservoir
  • capturing or chasing wildlife
  • using public bathrooms to bathe
  • failing to remove dog poop
  • amplifying sound or music without a permit

Large group feedings at a park, venue or facility owned or controlled by the city would have to have a Large Group Feeding Permit. But such events wouldn’t be allowed at some parks, including the Plaza de la Constitucion and Fish Island.

The Dining with Dignity program feeds people at a Bridge Street lot, but that program won’t be forced to change because of the ordinance.  According to the city attorney, the ordinance would allow the program to get a license to continue operations in the same spot.