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Steamboat Springs revisits how city handles special events

Failure to comply with local rules could come with new consequences

The annual Triple Crown has traditionally packed the fields at Howelsen Hill each year through the summer. The event did not return in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will return in June 2021. Steamboat Pilot & Today/archive

Steamboat Springs City Council is hoping to find a way to better deal with special events that also bring in problems.

City staff pointed to eight events that have previously received complaints for not complying with city code, including Triple Crown Baseball, a lacrosse tournament, the Free Concert Series, Art in the Park, a soccer tournament, SBT GRVL, Fall Festival and the Main Street Farmer’s Market.

If those events apply for a permit and receive approval from the city manager’s office, the organizers will also receive a letter listing any issues from the previous year and a notification that the city will be inspecting the event this year.



“We’re inspecting to make sure that the things we identified as issues come into compliance next time there’s an event,” Steamboat Special Projects and Intergovernmental Services Manager Winnie DelliQuadri told council members on Tuesday, Feb. 1. “Our goal is to get people to come into compliance.”

DelliQuadri suggested several options for holding non-compliant event organizers accountable: fines, fees, requiring a compliance plan, denying a permit, restricting locations and making them pay a security deposit.



After discussion, council members agreed to explore fines, compliance plans and denying permits for future years.

“If we have an event that we identify as having not been in compliance with our special event conditions, then we will give them a warning and inspect them in 2023 and ask them what their plan is to come into compliance,” DelliQuadri said. “If we have an event that continues to violate conditions and has no desire to come into compliance, then we will look at denying them.”

DelliQuadri emphasized that the goal is to help events comply with city code, not kick them out of Steamboat.

“These events are, for the most part, beloved, and the event producers want to do a great job for our community and for their participants,” DelliQuadri said. “They are eager to come into compliance.”

Some council members said the city should not be afraid to deny an event’s permit after a year or two of noncompliance, as the city has more applications for events than it can accommodate, so an open spot could go to a better-behaved group.

“If we know that they’re bad apples, why would we give them an extra two years on top of them already being non-compliant with the permit that’s in place,” asked council member Heather Sloop. “I think the fines, with the way that they’re written and the way they could be enforced, would garner more teeth.”

Other council members agreed about adding fines for events that repeatedly fail to adhere to the rules, though the council did not discuss exactly how much a fine could be.

Council member Dakotah McGinlay wanted to ensure that fines were a temporary penalty to correct a bad process, not a permanent way for noncompliant events to keep returning and causing issues.

“I see these fines as being something that these events could pay for the next two years until they’re able to comply, but if they can’t comply within that time, it’s not like you can just pay a fine and continue to move on,” McGinlay said. “I do think there has to be a time limit.”

Council members also raised concern about events causing too much noise, and asked about adjusting the city’s noise ordinance to ensure there is a limit on how loud things can be, while differentiating between a band playing at Howelsen Hill and a loud party keeping next door neighbors awake on a weeknight.

“I just want to make sure we don’t stop doing some of these special events because of noise complaints that people are hearing,” said council member Michael Buccino.

City Manager Gary Suiter said some noise in ski resort towns is inevitable, and the city should find a balance between allowing loud events on special occasions and ensuring residents enjoy a quiet neighborhood most of the time.

“Resorts are kind of party places,” Suiter said. “We make a lot of noise here, so we need to be careful that we don’t pass laws that basically undermine these events all of the sudden.“

Council did not take a vote on implementing any new processes but will continue to discuss the idea.


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