The City of Newport Beach has won a Golden Hub of Innovation award from the Association of California Cities – Orange County (ACCOC) for the City’s strategy to reduce unruly crowds and behavior in West Newport on the Fourth of July. The ACCOC awards program recognizes local governments for innovative approaches to delivering municipal services.
The City’s “Fourth of July is for Families” plan garnered the award in the Public Safety category. The plan involves a multi-year strategy to change the character of West Newport Fourth of July festivities from unruly to family friendly to:
- Reduce high law enforcement, traffic control, and after-event maintenance costs
- Enhance and support community spirit and neighborhood camaraderie.
“The City would spend about six months planning and roughly $300,000 bracing for the influx of people into West Newport on July 4,” explained Council Member Mike Henn. “Our residents wanted their neighborhood to be a place families could gather and enjoy the holiday. We needed a new approach and together we found one that’s working.”
That strategy took two distinctly different tools – stronger regulation against bad behavior and a fun, playful community celebration – to achieve the goal of a quieter, less costly, Fourth of July holiday.
In 2011, the Newport Beach City Council passed a new ordinance that increased penalties for “loud and unruly gatherings” (LUGO). At the same time, the Council allocated funding to add the “July 4th is for Families” community parade and festival to the day. The City also reduced the number of street closures slightly from prior years to allow residents more freedom to go in and out of parts of the neighborhood.
A committee of community volunteers helped to organize the parade and festival, which drew about 1,000 people, secured more sponsors than suggested, and the event only cost about $5,000. The City’s law enforcement costs were reduced by approximately $14,000 and about 16 homes were “tagged” with the LUGO penalties.
The second year, 2012, the City maintained the enhanced penalties, but only tagged two homes with LUGO penalties. Law enforcement costs overall were reduced by an additional $15,000 from the previous year. There were minimal street closures, saving significant labor resources of the City’s maintenance crews.
Additional sponsorships helped cover all of the costs of the “July 4th is for Families” parade and festival, and attendance grew to about 2,000 area residents. The City and the community volunteers who helped to plan the event expect attendance to increase again in 2013.
“We want visitors, families and friends to gather and celebrate the Fourth of July in West Newport,” Henn added. “Our approach to the holiday still celebrates the “fun” of July 4th, but also shows what kind of behavior is unruly and unwelcome here. We’re honored to receive the Golden Hub of Innovation Award and thank the ACCOC for recognizing the partnership between hard-working community volunteers and the City. ”