The controversy is not whether to accept the new document produced, but rather whether or not it should be an ordinance or a policy. Here's some food for thought.
Putting these guidelines in the Code of Ordinances will have a negative effect on Southport’s ability to attract film production business.The new guidelines are based in part on those of Wilmington, NC: a city with the reputation of being extremely film friendly and with a history of success in using their guidelines. The vast majority of cities with film guidelines have them as a policy.
Ordinances are the laws of the city. By their nature they contain as little gray area as possible and are meant to be definitive, inflexible rules to be followed as close to the letter as possible. Policy guidelines have the same power as ordinances in that they are "the law" and must be enforced as such. The difference is that the language in policy guidelines contains more flexibility and allows the film liaison and city manager some leeway in granting permission for filming activities. This flexibility is essential as no two film production’s requests are the same. If the flexibility is not available--as it would NOT be in an ordinance--they are likely to go elsewhere.
Below are some talking points:
- If it is decided that these guidelines should be adopted as an ordinance, they must be rewritten to remove any flexibility. In a sense they will no longer be guidelines but rather a rigid set of directives with no room for discussion and accommodation.
- Film productions have many requirements when considering a filming location. Policy guidelines allow enough flexibility to help accommodate those needs while still protecting persons and property in the city. An ordinance has no flexibility and this will discourage many film and TV productions from considering Southport as a viable location.
- Policy guidelines carry the full weight of law. An ordinance offers no greater legal protection for the city or our citizens.
- The location requirements of every film and TV production are different. Policy/guidelines provide the film liaison and the city manager with a framework that enables them to meet the needs of a wide range of production situations. Ordinances are a “take it or leave it” proposition with no room for variance.
- Changes are often needed to the guidelines to be sure they are still meeting the needs of the city. Changing policy guidelines is a much easier process than changing an ordinance. Whenever an ordinance is changed it must be codified; a process that costs the city money. Changing a policy is free.