San Carlos wants its residents to party — block party, that is.
Believing the neighborhood gatherings are a good way to strengthen community bonds and promote safety, the city is actively promoting them and trying to make the process easier and less expensive.
“Communities with block parties know each other and are healthier,” Mayor Mark Olbert said. “And if you ever need to borrow a shovel it’s a lot easier to have those conversations when you know your neighbors.
In July, the city began bearing the cost of insurance which averages $217 per application. Based on the number of applications between January and August, Parks and Recreation Director Christine Boland estimates the yearly price tag at $8,5000 which comes out of existing funds.
The application itself was also streamlined so that it could be completed entirely electronically and city staff mailed 12,000 copes of its community newsletter and activity guide to households as a way of promoting the parties.
“It’s not that there’s a lack of them. We just would like to see more,” Olbert said.
On Monday night, Olbert and his fellow councilmen will hear an update on how the effort is working out and possibly offer some guidance of other ways to encourage the parties.
Olbert said he definitely plans to suggest an idea he learned about while campaigning in 2011 — some other cities in the county waive the permit fees if the party allows a member of city staff to attend and discuss city happenings. Outreach is a challenge for any municipality so such an arrangement could prove beneficial, he said.
“We don’t want to turn the parties into a city forum but there is a win-win there,” Olbert said.
According to the city website, the permit fees are currently waived but barricades are still required and must be rented from a vendor.
The changing demographics of the city make it more like a resident lives next to a newcomer rather than a 40-year neighbor, he said.
Block parties, like the annual National Night Out, are a chance for some face time.
So far, the city push seems to be working.
In 2010, the city had six block parties, according to data from Boland and City Clerk Crystal Mui in a report for the council’s Monday meeting.
In 2011, there were 9 followed by 12 in 2012 and 16 in 2013. To date this year, 26 requests were received by the city and 14 of those are first-time applicants.
The San Carlos City Council meets 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25 at the San Carlos Library, Second Floor, 610 Elm St.
For more information on applying for a block party, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 802-4421 or visit www.cityofsancarlos.org. Applications are due 30 days prior to a party.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102