City of Denver to streamline public event approval process

Clone of Photo: Downtown Denver Arts Fest
A new city of Denver office will streamline the permitting process for special events, like the Downtown Denver Arts Festival.

The city of Denver announced Monday the creation of a new office of special events (OSE) to streamline applications for all of the city's public events, from 5k runs to the annual Denver People's Fair. It will also handle permitting for all movie shoots.

"We are doing this to respond to the increasing demand for special events," newly-appointed OSE executive director Katy Strascina says. "Until now, there has been no city-wide coordination for the process involved in putting on an event."

Strascina says the city has spent the last two years studying event processing in Denver and how events are managed by municipalities both locally and nationally. Over the course of that time, the number of events happening in Denver has grown from 350 to 650. Strascina says the city currently handles around 350 film projects per year.

Before the creation of the OSE, event organizers would have to liaise with any number of the city's 17 departments. For example, in order to put on a 5k race, an organizer would need to collaborate with the police department as well as parks and recreation.

Tbe OSE is intended as a "one-stop shop" for this process, so organizers can deal with a single point of contact for everything from event planning to management to review.

Strascina says to put on an event, organizers will fill out a form on the OSE's web page. The form will then be processed by her team in coordination with other relevant city departments. Strascina says the website is currently still being developed and will be ready within the next two months.

Beyond streamlining the event planning process for event organizers, the OSE is also charged with improving the feedback process concerning events with Denver residents.

Strascina says her department will be carefully monitoring event plans so that residents living in certain neighborhoods that are popular destinations for events, such as Civic Center and Capitol Hill, aren't unduly inconvenienced by by-products of these happenings such as congestion, parking and noise levels.

"We're looking at the quality of life of our residents," Strascina says. "We need to listen to what they are saying and create more coordinated and efficient communication with residents to monitor the impact of events."

Neighborhood organization Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods executive director Roger Armstrong welcomes the development of the new office. Armstrong's neighborhood is the site of many events in Denver such as art fairs, music festivals and foot races, and his organization also produces the People's Fair.

"I think it's a good thing," Armstrong says. "The neighborhood would like to have adequate notice to prepare for things like road closures and provide the city with more feedback."

Armstrong says that two of his organization's chief complaints to the city in the past were to do with the sheer volume of events happening in the Capitol Hill area and the amount of notification residents would get leading up to an event.

Armstrong hopes the OSE will be able to provide 30-60 days notice before an event happens going forwards.

"In the past, it's generally been up to the event producers to reach out to the neighborhood," Armstrong says. "We'd typically get anything from a month to a few days' notice."

The OSE is currently staffed by three people including Strascina. She says she expects to add a fourth employee soon. The OSE will move into its offices at the Webb Building in Civic Center later this week.