RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The City of Rio Rancho requires a special-event permit for events including a rally or protest.
However, these rules are different in a pandemic.
“Based on past and current COVID public health orders from the governor, the city will not issue, when applicable, a special-event permit for any mass gathering that brings together more than 10 people in a single room or connected space, confined outdoor space or an open outdoor space,” said city spokeswoman Annemarie García in an email.
Protests are allowed to continue under the governor’s public-health orders. None of the Black New Mexico Movement protests or multi-group counter-protests Sept. 12 and Oct. 3 in Rio Rancho had permits, she said.
Once the governor allows mass gatherings again, the city will require a special-event permit for any event open to the public on private or public property, she said.
According to the city ordinance, the permit grants temporary zoning approval to allow for the facilitation of the event while minimizing the impact of the event on community members.
“Those seeking to conduct an event on private property, which they don’t own, should have the permission of the private property owner; otherwise trespassing issues exist,” she said.
The ordinance requires seeking a permit at least 30 days prior to the event to allow for proper review, planning and allocation of city resource, if warranted.
“The purpose of a special-event permit is to ensure the safety and well-being of event attendees, as well as those in the vicinity of the event who are not attending,” García said.
With the permit, city staff verifies the licenses of attending businesses required to have them, such as food vendors, and assesses if the event will negatively affect traffic and if adequate parking is available.
City staff members make police and firefighters aware of the gathering in case of an emergency and plan in advance for extra costs of overtime for public-safety personnel and vehicles needed there, she said.
The special-event permit fee is $35, with City of Rio Rancho-funded, organized or sponsored events exempt, according to the ordinance.