Letter to the Editor RE: Will LFP Officials break their own laws?
By: Jack Tonkin, LFP resident 55 yrs., past Councilmember and Planning Commission.
There are many adverse impacts affecting LFP citizens from the upcoming Battle of the Bands to be held in our Animal Acres Park on August 1,2,6. These range from the Covid risk from gatherings the security risks from the random gun violence prevalent throughout the country (including King County), selling alcohol and food at the events, and violating rules within the LFP Municipal Code, not to mention the practical issues with traffic, parking, trash, liter, noise and potential vandalism of park property.
The Municipal Codes were established to address the proper use of our parks. Apparently, our officials are unfamiliar with their own rules and laws. While some of these regulations can be set aside with permits issued by our city clerk and council, there is one law that cannot be set aside by permit from any city officials
Code 12.08.140 (Ord. 93-16, 1966) The law is clear and binding as it states, “It is unlawful to bring in to or consume in any park and whiskey, wine, beer or other intoxicating liquors” (There is no statement allowing permit exception to this ordinance.)
Alcohol, loud bands and concert crowds prove unsafe and sometimes violent. This event is far distant from the previous “Concert in the Park” events performed freely for LFP citizens. Apparently, our officials do not see any difference between events past and present. (Also, why is LFP hosting a Shoreline event when Shoreline has its own parks?)
Violations of the rules and regulations governing the operation of park property are considered a misdemeanor with fines and punishment. Any second violations occurring within six months are deemed a gross misdemeanor and subject to punishment (Ord.565 – 3, 1994).
The other rules and regulations subject to use exceptions can be allowed with permits issued by the city clerk, and some require the council's consent. For example, Code 12.08.080 states it is unlawful to sell refreshments or merchandise without a permit or concession contract unless approved by the LFP Council.
The City needs to follow its own rules and regulations. Interested citizens should contact the city clerk, major, and council with questions about permits, laws, and organizers of this event. The sponsor organization, Shore Lake Arts, lists only one LFP member (Councilmember Tracy Furutani as Secretary), which seems disproportionate in the representation of the interests of LFP citizens.
Response from City of LFP Mayor, Jeff Johnson, Deputy Mayor John French, and Vice Chair Kassover:
Mr. Tonkin is correct in his recollection that almost 60 years ago, the City of Lake Forest Park adopted an ordinance prohibiting bringing into or consuming alcohol in City parks.
Since then, the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board has implemented processes for regulating and obtaining banquet permits authorizing the service and consumption of liquor for an event on a specific date with specific conditions.
In the past, the City has used the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board’s regulations and process along with the City’s special event permit process to allow the sale and consumption of alcohol in City parks on specific days for specific events. Upon review, the city administration, with concurrence of city council leadership, has recommended that we propose amending the original city ordinance to better align the LFP municipal code with past practice and current Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board regulations.
This amended ordinance will be presented for approval at the next city council general meeting, on Thursday July 28th.
We appreciate Mr. Tonkin bringing this issue to our attention and prompting us to propose updating and clarifying our city’s handling of special event permits that include the sale of alcohol. We also want to assure the community that the city will closely monitor the Battle of the Bands event, which is being presented by Shorelake Arts.
This local non-profit includes membership from both Shoreline and Lake Forest Park, and has served our community for the past 33 years. It was previously known as the Shoreline and Lake Forest Park Arts Council. Shorelake Arts has operated the cooperative artists gallery in the Lake Forest Park Towne Center for the past 10 years – attracting 12,000 visitors annually, sponsors concerts and plays in parks throughout the two cities, collaborates with Secret Gardens of Lake Forest Park and Third Place Commons, and provides arts enrichment activities at our local schools through their Artists in Schools program. Because of this vital enrichment of our quality-of-life in Lake Forest Park, the City Council has included funding for Shorelake Arts in the city budget for many years.
We anticipate a fun and exciting Battle of the Bands event, designed to involve many local young musicians and residents. We wish them a safe and enjoyable experience right in the heart of their home community.