JAMES Magazine Online: Kemp Signs Bill Cracking Down on Unpermitted Events

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Thursday, April 11th, 2024

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A bill that allows local governments throughout the state the authority to hold promoters of unpermitted events accountable for resulting costs will now become law in Georgia. The bill is mainly in response to an annual event in Tybee Island – Orange Crush – that cost taxpayers over $187,520 on policing last year alone. With the Governor’s signature, the bill becomes law immediately – a few weeks ahead of this year’s Orange Crush – the annual HBCU Historically Black Colleges and University’s beach bash.

Last year, the unpermitted event strained local and state resources and caused gridlocked traffic along the island. Locals reportedly left their homes that weekend to avoid the havoc. Reports indicate 111,100 people went to Tybee over three days of Orange Crush, according to police.

While the bill was sparked by Orange Crush, officials are putting others on alert that Senate Bill 433 could have an impact on a number of unpermitted events across the state who try to bypass the permit process.

The bill was sponsored by state Sens. Ben Watson R-Savannah, and Derek Mallow, D–Savannah, and was carried in the House by state Rep. Jesse Petrea, R–Savannah. It empowers local governments to pursue legal action against promoters or organizers of unpermitted events that cause public nuisances impeding the travel of law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, or other government personnel acting officially. Local governments can seek reimbursement for costs associated with public safety, traffic management, and sanitation services on behalf of the public.

“I appreciate Governor Kemp’s support in signing Senate Bill 443 into law,” stated Watson. “He understands the importance of preventing situations where promoters circumvent local permitting processes, leaving citizens to bear the costs of responding to and cleaning up after unpermitted events.”

Brian West, representing the City of Tybee Island, expressed gratitude, saying, “We welcome visitors and events to our wonderful city and appreciate the backing of Sen. Watson, Rep. Petrea, the Georgia legislature and Governor Kemp in providing this legal mechanism for Tybee to address the significant expenses of managing promoter-driven events that bypass the permitting process. While we hope not to invoke this law, it serves as a necessary tool when unpermitted events strain our public safety resources and burden our taxpayers financially.”

Petrea commented, “This common-sense legislation will incentivize promoters to collaborate with municipalities to obtain proper permits for hosting events. Promoters of unpermitted events must realize they are liable for any costs incurred due to problematic events they organize.”