GENERAL SPECIAL EVENT PERMITTING GUIDELINES


IN THIS SECTION

Activity Requiring a Special Event Permit

Required Processing Time


Activity Requiring a Special Event Permit

Not all events in the Seattle of Seattle require a Special Event Permit.  Many events in City parks may only require a Seattle Parks and Recreation parks use permit.  Small events on sidewalks, residential streets, or other public places may only require a Seattle Department of Transportation street use permit.  Some event activity may not require a permit at all.  

However, many events require coordinated City services and/or have a substantial impact on a park, public or private place.  Such events, called Special Events require considerable advance planning by more than one City department, sometimes in conjunction with other governmental agencies, in order to adequately protect public safety and property and to reduce adverse impacts on the public place and upon neighbors and other users of our public places.  These events are subject to the City's Special Events Ordinance 124860 (Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 15.52).  

Below are some general guidelines on when a Special Event Permit is required, arranged by event location. For detailed legal definitions, see Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 15.52.

Seattle Street, Sidewalk, Alleyway, Public Parking, or other Right-of-Way

City Park or other City-Owned Facility

Private Property

Seattle Street, Sidewalk, Alleyway, Public Parking, or other Right-of-Way

YES!

If your event closes or uses a City of Seattle street, sidewalk, alleyway, public parking, or other right-of-way, you need a Special Event Permit.  

Exception: You may be eligible for a Special Activity Permit (issued directly by the Department of Transportation), if you meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Closure is one block only and does not include an intersection closure AND
  • Closure is of a non-arterial street AND
  • Event attendance will be less than 300 people at any given time AND
  • Event does not need Police, Fire, or other City resources AND
  • There is no alcohol service or consumption on public property AND
  • Event takes place in daylight hours only AND
  • Event has minimal setup in the street (objects must be quickly movable by one person)  

City Park or other City-Owned Facility

YES!

If ANY of these apply:

  • You are selling alcohol (at a beer garden, bar, etc.) OR
  • You need Police services for safety/security or for traffic control OR
  • Event includes public street/sidewalk use OR
  • Event will have a substantial impact on the park or surrounding neighborhood OR
  • Event will have off-hours (10:00pm-9:00am weekends, 10:00pm-7:00am weekdays outdoor amplified sound OR
  • Event will require the provision of substantial public services

Exception: Events occurring solely in the Seattle Center campus. These events are managed and permitted by Seattle Center staff.  

Private Property

YES!

  • If ALL of these apply:
  • Event attendance will be 500 people or more at any given time AND
  • Any of these apply:
    • Event will have a substantial impact on the park or surrounding neighborhood OR
    • Event will have off-hours (10:00pm-9:00am weekends, 10:00pm-7:00am weekdays) outdoor amplified sound OR
    • Event will require the provision of substantial public services

Exception: Events occurring solely in stadiums or other venues managed by Transportation Management Plans, such as events at CenturyLink Field, Husky Stadium, Key Arena, and Safeco Field. Contact the Special Events Office for more information.

 

Required Processing Time

All Special Event Permit Applications must be received a minimum of 90 days prior to the event start date. While occasional exceptions can be made, the consequences of a late submission may include any or all of the following:

  • Permit may be denied due to insufficient processing time
  • You may be subject to late fees of up to $150 application fee and 120% of administration fee
  • Jeopardizes historical date/location for recurring events
  • Jeopardizes future events you may request
  • Police staffing or other City services may not be available
  • You will not receive a preliminary permit document (only the final permit document will be issued)

An allowance is made for permits to be issued within forty-eight hours of the City receiving an application for spontaneous political/religious free speech demonstrations protected by the United States and Washington State constitutions.