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Assembly Approves Chaparro Bill to Help Municipalities Regulate Large Internet-Organized Social Gatherings, Protect Public Safety

Bill is Inspired by Hoboken Bar Crawls Organized Online Leaving City Unprepared for Influx

(TRENTON) – The full Assembly on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro that would help municipalities like Hoboken regulate large social gatherings organized online and cover the costs if additional law enforcement or city resources are required to ensure public safety on event day. The bill passed 48-27-1 and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Chaparro noted that, historically, large events in municipalities were organized in a fashion where the planner would register with City Hall for a party in a park, concert, or any other event since ultimately the event would result in some drain on public resources. Today, larger events are being organized on the internet without any warning to city officials.

“We’ve seen large scale events like bar crawls spiral out of control while the city stands by helplessly with no point of contact because the event was created behind the anonymity of the Internet,” said Chaparro (D-Hudson). “Our goal is to address the changing societal landscape where these online organized events lack responsible parties and leave the municipalities and its taxpayers on the hook for the costs. For example, internet-organized bar crawls in cities like Hoboken result in additional public resources. This bill would simply create a path for municipalities to establish rules and regulations behind large scale events organized online and hopefully also protect bar owners who are sometimes wrongly blamed for the mayhem that can occur on event days.”

The bill (A-3720) would allow a municipality to establish a regulatory framework by way of ordinance through which proprietors of commercial establishments within the municipality can participate in events jointly organized on the Internet.

The regulatory framework may include a registration fee based on the expected number of participants in the event. The total amount of the registration fees collected by a municipality may be no more than five dollars per attendee, collected equally from participating proprietors or in accordance with an arrangement agreed upon by participating proprietors. The regulations may also include financial penalties for a violation of the regulations.

The bill was approved by the Assembly State and Local Government Committee in January and would take effect immediately upon enactment. The bill will now go to the Senate for further consideration.