When it comes to event and entertainment permits, Sacramento is the ’City of Fees'
In 2003, Sacramento adopted a new entertainment-permit policy. This made it illegal for businesses to, for example, host bands or deejays unless they received an entertainment permit. Individuals couldn't put on one-time-only events without approval, either.
It now costs a few thousand bucks, renewable every two years, for an entertainment permit. Plus, up to $300 a night for security. And there are all sorts of other fees and rules. Smaller venues, such as coffeehouses, net zero dollars on events. Certain music scenes get priced out.
Over the years, I've put on a few events. It's a frustrating experience. I'm not blaming city employees.
Here's the issue: Events cost a ton, and most people don't make money.
For instance, last summer, I put on a block party near Franklin Boulevard. A free event. Thousands attended. Even the mayor and his wife. I didn't make a dime. Yet I somehow had to come up with permit and application fees, hundreds for road-closure costs and police presence, more than $800 for a fire-department inspection (that took less than eight minutes!), event insurance, county health-department fees, and on and on. Thankfully, citizens stepped up to help.
But imagine all the people who want to put on events and don't because the costs are too daunting.
At one point, Mayor Kevin Johnson declared Sacramento a “City of Festivals.” What a joke. If anything, we're the City of Fees. The City of Red Tape.
Yes, there need to be rules, things need to be safe. But when the city council updates its events-permit policy this spring, it should make life easier for the everyday Sacramentan who wants to celebrate and make a difference.