How-To-Guide: Process for a Block Party
In Washington, summer wouldn’t be summer without humidity and block parties. While the same can’t be said of the humidity, who doesn’t enjoy a good block party? On the surface, these community gatherings are a great way to meet neighbors, enjoy tasty food and swap stories. During a political year, they’ve also been known to attract candidates running for office, such as the one held on the 400 block of Columbia Road did earlier this year.
A well organized block party may seem like a day of fun-in-the-sun, but it actually takes a good deal of perseverance to organize. If you live on a DC block interested in hosting this neighborly event, I’ve put together a step-by-step outline to help make the involved process as easy as possible, plus included additional hints where appropriate, which you can read after the jump
1st. OK’s from your neighbors on the block
Purpose: Collect signatures on the “Petition” from at least 51% of the block’s residents.
+Clipboard (backing for the petition)
+Calendar (to show the event’s date)
HINTS: 1) Plan accordingly – this step takes longer than you might expect! 2) Scheduling considerations: before “football season” starts; not during a 3-day weekend; Saturday with a rain date of Sunday so it’s on the same weekend.
2nd. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (DC HSEMA)
Location: 2720 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20032 (202) 727-3159; FAX = (202) 715-7288
Contact: Gloria Jackson (2nd floor)
Purpose: To submit “Neighborhood Block Party Temporary Street Closing Application” with “Petition“. Ms. Jackson will send the application to the different agencies (Police, Fire/EMS, DOT, DCRA, WMATA) for their sign-off of your event.
+Map of block party location
+Completed “Neighborhood Block Party Temporary Street Closing Application” with ‘Petition’ containing a minimum of 51% of the residents on the requested closure.
HINT: If your block is part of a METRO Bus route, then you’re not allowed to have a “block” party.
3rd. Office of Tax & Revenue (DC OTR)
Location: 1101 4th Street SW #270 | (202) 727-4TAX
Purpose: To be cleared by DC on any back taxes/payments. Once done, go to DCRA (across the street) with the approved “Clean Hands Certification”
+Completed “Clean Hands Certification” (Basic Business License Application)
HINT: Be patient – this step could take from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
4th. Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DC DCRA)
Location: 1100 4th Street SW – 2nd floor | (202) 442-4311
Contact: Laverne Stewart
Purpose: To obtain a waiver from paying a special event fee. A signed Waiver (of the Special Event License Fee) Letter will be provided to you once only after you are cleared by the Office of Tax & Revenue.
+Copy of “Neighborhood Block Party Temporary Street Closing Application” with “Petition” containing 51% of the neighbors on the requested closure.
+Completed “Special Events Application/Questionnaire”
+Approved “Clean Hands Certification” (Basic Business License Application)
HINT: Save time – stand in the “Licensing Line.”
5th. Permit Pickup @ DCHSEMA.
Purpose: Obtain your ‘Temporary Street Closing’ PERMIT.
+Copy of “Waiver Letter” from DCRA
HINT: Within 72 hours of your event /or/ after 15 business days of submitting your application, contact Ms. Jackson (see 2nd step) to confirm your event was approved.
6th. Department of Transportation (DC DOT)
Location: 14th + U Streets (Reeves Bldg) – 2nd Floor
Contact: 9:30am – 4pm
Purpose: To obtain ‘No Parking’ signs to affix to specific block.
+’Temporary Street Closing’ PERMIT
HINT: The signs are tall, so bring a large enough bag to carry them. String & scissors are helpful to affix signs to street posts.
7th. Metro Police Department (MPD)
Purpose: Contact your District’s MPD to tape off block as a safety precaution.
8th. Promote your event!
HINT: Distribute ‘Save the Date’ cards, post notices in visible locations & mention the event whenever you see your neighbors.