NPS Issues Proposed Rule on Use of Public Spaces in DC Region for Special Events

The National Park Service (NPS) is proposing to amend regulations governing viewing of the Inaugural parade by the public, demonstrators, and the Presidential Inaugural Committee. The proposed rule would extend the duration and extent of demonstrations and special events in Washington, DC, including the Inaugural, the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree and Christmas Pathway of Peace, the Cherry Blossom Festival, the Fourth of July Celebration, and the Festival of American Folklife.

On March 20, 2008, the District Court in ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition v. Kempthorne, 537 F.Supp.2d 183 (D.D.C. March 20, 2008) found that the National Park Service’s practice and procedure of submitting an application on behalf of the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) violated its regulations with respect to the duration of special events and the related timing of the submission of the application. The Court stated, however, that “[i]f the government thinks it appropriate to lengthen the amount of time for which permits may be granted under the regulations–perhaps even only for the Inauguration period and no other–the government may explicitly amend the regulations that apply to all permit applicants.” 537 F.Supp.2d at 203-204.

The proposed rule would lengthen the duration of any permit associated with Inauguration Day activities from 21 days to the period of time between October 24 and April 1. It would also open the majority of Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Park to the public and demonstrators for the Inaugural parade, regardless of viewpoint or message. In addition, the proposed rule would extend the duration of time that any permit may be issued for demonstrations or special events on the Ellipse and other designated park areas from three weeks to four months.

DATES: Comments must be received by September 22, 2008.

Interested parties may submit comments, identified by Regulatory Information Number 1024-AD71, by any of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

Mail or hand delivery: National Park Service, Regional Director, Division of Park Programs, 1100 Ohio Drive, SW., Room 128, Washington, DC 20242.

For further information contact the National Park Service, National Capital Region, Division of Park Programs, 1100 Ohio Drive, SW., Room 128, Washington, DC 20242. Telephone: (202) 619-7275. Fax: (202) 401-2430.