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Play Streets: Frequent Questions

GENERAL INFORMATION

What is a "Play Street"?

It's just what it sounds like. With a free permit, you can temporarily close your street to traffic so that you and your neighbors can go out and play in the street. Play Streets provide more space for kids (and adults) to play and be physically active.

Who can host a Play Street?

Anyone can! Play Streets can be hosted by neighbors, schools, or community groups.

Who pays for the Play Street?

Hosting a Play Street is free! The organizer is responsible for arranging and funding any activities that happen during the Play Street. If you're interested in grant funding to help buy equipment for your Play Street (e.g., hula hoops, jump ropes, chalk), you can apply to the Department of Neighborhoods' Small Sparks fund.

Why does SDOT allow Play Streets?

Play Street allow us to better use our shared public space for a wide range of activities that can benefit our health and expand available open space. Hosts have told us that they made friends with their neighbors and kids were able to get more quality, active play in a safe setting.

FIRST TIME APPLICANTS

Can my street be a Play Street?

Almost any residential street can be a Play Street. A Play Street CANNOT:

  • Be an arterial (high traffic volumes) – check here
  • Be longer than one block
  • Include an intersection
  • Contain a bus route

How often can I turn my street into a Play Street?

The frequency depends on the location and your needs and interests. At most, you can have a Play Street three days per week for six hours per day.  Please ensure Play Streets are during daylight hours.

How do I restrict vehicular access to the Play Street?

Play Streets us barricades, which can be made of all kinds of objects (trash bins, patio furniture, homemade barriers), but they need to meet these requirements. Barricade objects need to be:

  1. At least 3 feet high from the ground
  2. Spaced no more than 5 feet apart and linked together (rope, ribbon, streamers, etc)
  3. Close to the intersection so they're visible to approaching vehicles
  4. Easily moveable to allow access for residents, visitors, deliveries, and emergencies (do not use vehicles)
  5. Monitored by an adult at all times to assist people with questions or vehicles that are going to/from their homes

Is there a season for Play Streets? When does my permit expire?

Yes, Play Street applications will be issued in two seasons to account for changes in school scheduling and daylight.

  • SUMMER:  April through September
  • WINTER:  October through March

Am I required to let my neighbors know?

Before submitting your application, you need to let all the neighbors on your block know your intention to apply including the days and times – feel free to use our example flyer as a template.  These should be open and respectful conversation to allow neighbors to voice questions or concerns. Based on their feedback, you may decide to change the days, times, or only use part of the block.  The application includes an optional neighbor notification log which you can use to track who you talked to and the feedback you received. 
After you have received your permit, you should let your neighbors know well in advance of each event.

What is a Pre-Game Play Street?

In an effort to make the application process easier, we have created sheets you can attached to your application which list popular dates and times for Play Streets that coincide with local team sporting events.  You can always propose your own days and times too if your team isn't listed. 

What if I can't afford the required barricades? 

The City may be able to assist with barricades, please contact program staff to discuss. 

RECURRING APPLICANTS

Do I have to submit a new application every Play Street season?

Yes, you will need to resubmit your application along with the outreach log and example email/flyer for each new season.  This allows you to change the days and times. 

PLAY STREET HOSTS

How do I set up for a Play Street so it is safe?

SDOT will loan you up to two "Play Street" signs and two "Road Closed to Through Traffic" signs to post at the ends of your block. It's up to you to come up with other physical barriers, such as chairs, trash cans, or cones – but they must be 36" high. To view a PDF of our Play Street event set-up requirements, please click here.  If your street abuts an arterial, you will need to rent or buy a "type-3 barricade". 

How do I get a type-3 barricade?

If your Play Street abuts an arterial, rent or purchase a Type-3 barricade (to find rental companies search "rent type 3 barricade Seattle").  Typically if you are hosting more than three, it is cheaper to purchase one. 

Where do I get official signs and safety vests?

To pick up signage and safety vests (for barricade monitors) bring a copy of your permit to either SDOT's Street Use counter (700 5th Ave, Floor 23) or at one of our Customer Service Centers. These are borrowed and will need to be cleaned and returned when you're done using them. 

The Street Use counter is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 am to 5 pm and Tuesday and Thursday from 10:30 am to 5 pm. 

Does a Play Street need to be supervised?

Yes, the organizer of the Play Street needs to make sure that there is adult supervision at all barricades throughout the event to allow access for local residents, visitors, deliveries, and emergency vehicles.  It's also a good idea to have an adult present to make sure everyone is safe. 

Can I restrict on-street parking during an event?

Yes, if you do not want cars parked on the street during your Play Street, you must rent temporary "No Parking" signs (that must be placed 72 hours in advance of your Play Street). You can rent these signs from a number of local companies, just search "rent no park signs Seattle".

Can I turn people away?

You need to allow access to anyone requesting access to the block including deliveries, visitors, and emergencies.  Simply ask the driver to wait a moment while you clear the street of kids playing.

Can I have a bouncy castle or other large play equipment in the street?

Maybe, all play equipment must be easily moved at a moment's notice for emergency vehicles or neighbors trying to access their home.  However, it may be possible, but please allow additional review time and understand you may need to obtain liability insurance.  SDOT is not liable for injuries or property damage during Play Street events. 

FOR NEIGHBORS

Can I use my driveway/access my house during Play Street hours?

Yes, local access is allowed. An adult should be available at all times to move the street barricades so you can get your vehicle in and out of the street. Access is also allowed for visitors, deliveries, and emergency vehicles. 

What do I do when I have an issue with my neighbor's Play Street?

Occasionally, SDOT staff receives complaints about Play Streets.  Normally, these are related to the absence of adults stationed at the barricades making access difficult.  For this or other reasons, we encourage you to have an open dialog with your neighbors to resolve issues directly.  If this has not resolved the issue, please send detailed complaints with photos to AnnualPermits@Seattle.gov  and your complaint will be assigned to an inspector. 

Can I park on the street during a Play Street?

Yes, parking is not restricted unless the "no parking" a-frames are present 72 hours in advance. 

My car was damaged during a Play Street, who is responsible?

Just as if your vehicle or other property is damaged any other time, the person who damaged your property is responsible.  If that person is a minor child, their legal guardian is responsible.  SDOT is not liable for property damage during Play Street events. 

GENERAL PLAY STREET PROGRAM FEEDBACK

Where can I send general comments about the program?

If you have comments, questions, or general information please email the program coordinator, Kadie Bell Sata at Kadie.bell@seattle.gov

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