News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

New ordinances explained

The Sisters City Council approved two new ordinances at their January 22 meeting having to do with public events and transient merchants.

Ordinance 500, known as the Public Events Ordinance, provides for a permit system for public events and the special use of public property, parks, streets, rights-of-way, sidewalks, trails, and/or bikeways. Fees will be charged to recover the costs of administering the permits. The ordinance contains regulations to protect property, public safety, health and welfare, and to control the use of streets and other public facilities and venues in the city.

There are different classifications of events, based on the expected crowd size. A “city-wide event” is a recurring event held in the city for at least three of the last five years and is expected to draw a significant city-wide and/or regional crowd with not less than 2,000 attendees. No more than one city-wide event will be permitted per month during a calendar year. No public event may be held during the period in which a city-wide event occurs in the city.

The current city-wide events include the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, Sisters Harvest Faire, and Sisters Folk Festival. The rodeo events, except for the parade on Saturday morning, are held at the rodeo grounds which lie outside the city.

A large public event is one that is anticipated to involve or attract 251 or more attendees. A medium public event is anticipated to attract 76 or more attendees but no more than 250. A small public event would anticipate 25 or more attendees but no more than 75. All permits must be obtained from the City.

The provisions of Ordinance 500 go into effect 30 days after approval, which was January 22, 2020. However, three sections having to do with hours of operation and duration of public events, the use of the city’s parks, and road closure and traffic control regulations will not take effect until January 1, 2021 to allow event organizers a period of transition.

Those regulations, when they take effect, will include some important changes. A permit will be valid for a period of four consecutive days in any seven-day period (not including the 24 hours after the conclusion of the public event for clean-up).

No medium, large, or city-wide public event may be held at Creekside Park. No large or city-wide public event at any city park may be held at the same park within 10 days following the last day of a designated city-wide event.

The City will not permit any closure(s) of city-owned and/or controlled roads in connection with a public event between the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Permitted parades are not affected by this prohibition. Neither is the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in July since Cascade Avenue is part of State Highway 20 and under the auspices of ODOT, which grants permission for road closures on state highways.

The Sisters Harvest Faire takes place in October, outside the closure window.

Ordinance 501 regulates the licensing and operation of transient merchants, a topic which has been a recurring conversation for at least the last five years. A transient merchant is someone who is engaging in a temporary business for less than 30 days in a calendar year. They are not licensed as a year-round business in Sisters.

The ordinance is intended to establish reasonable and uniform regulations for the licensing and operation of transient merchants and to collect appropriate fees to cover City’s costs and expenses for administering and enforcing the ordinance. There are a number of exemptions outlined in the ordinance.

Event promoters who apply for a public-event permit must submit to the City a list of each transient merchant participating in the proposed public event. No license application will be required of any transient merchant participating in a permitted public event. There are several regulations related to location of a transient merchant business.

Mayor Chuck Ryan said, “Allowing public events to hire transient merchants without having each merchant pay $100 for a license in exchange for a one-time $20 fee per merchant per event is a very fair and equitable decision.”


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