Community Activation

What We Do

There are five main types of street closure permits you can apply for to hold an event or small community gathering. These types of street closures, in order of increasing scale and complexity, are:

Play Streets

play streets

  • Free permit to open your street up for play
  • Allows community members to close a neighborhood street to traffic so that kids (and adults) can have more space for play and physical activity
  • Helps neighbors create more space for play during the summer or after school

Block Parties

block parties

  • Free permit to allow community members to plan a day or evening of fun in the street with neighbors, friends, and family
  • Temporarily closes a neighborhood street to local traffic for the neighborhood to get to know each other.

Special Activities

Special Activities

  • Permit for farmers markets, businesses celebrating sidewalk sales and grand openings, and other small community events 
  • Office of Economic Development to support the establishment of new farmers markets on streets and sidewalks 

Festival Streets

Festival Streets

  • Annual permit for community groups, businesses, and individuals to host a calendar of special activities on designated festival streets, reducing permitting time and fees
  • Assists community groups to have a neighborhood street designated as a festival street

Special Events

Special Events

  • Very large events (e.g., Seafair Torchlight Parade) that are permitted and coordinated by the City of Seattle Special Events Office.

Program Goals

  • Provide people of all ages with more opportunities to be active in their neighborhood
  • Encourage residents, community organizations, and businesses to use their streets creatively and actively 
  • Strengthen community connections 
  • Promote alternative use of our streets 
  • Promote use of designated festival streets as public space 
  • Simplify permitting process for regularly scheduled community gatherings and events
  • Support local business development and commercial district vitality

What's New

The Pike People Street 2017 Work Plan is available. Learn more about the temporary pedestrian spaces being created throughout the summer to give people more room to walk and for in-street activities to occur.   

Apply for a permit 

Play streets, block parties, special activities, and festival streets are all permitted by SDOT Street Use. View our chart that summarizes the purpose, size, timing, and permit requirements for the types of street closures listed above.

  Individuals or organizations seeking to host a special activity, such as a farmers market, or a festival street should apply for a public space permit. Those interested in organizing larger events known as "special events," such as parades or concerts, should contact the Seattle Special Events Office at specialeventsoffice@seattle.gov.

Permit resources

A play street closes a neighborhood street to vehicles and opens it to kids (and adults) so they can have more space for play and physical activity. School play streets provide additional space for recess, arrivals, or other special activities, such as a field day. 

Community play streets help neighbors create more space for play during the summer or after school. 

For more detail on our Play Streets program, please visit our Play Streets page.

block party

A block party helps you connect with your neighbors, reimagine your block, and strengthen community relationships. 

Here are some frequently asked questions about block parties: 

What are block parties?

Block parties are defined as events being held by people living along the street and not larger publicized events open to the general public. With a free permit, you can temporarily close your street and use the right of way to host a party for you and your neighbors.

Block parties can be hosted once per month during daylight hours and require a permit. Invite your neighbors, friends, and family to have fun in the street. In an average year, over 250 groups of neighbors gather together for block parties.

What are my responsibilities?

  • Talk with your neighbors. Let them know that you are applying for a free permit to host a neighborhood party that will temporarily shut down the street but allow local access only. Don't forget to invite them! 
  • Provide barricades and street closure signs. Barricades and street closure signs will warn drivers of the closure. You can use recycling bins or furniture as barricades and attach street closure signs with tape. It is also important that you have an adult at both ends of the closure to let local traffic in, answer questions, and make neighbors feel welcome to join. 
  • Do not close arterial streets, intersections, or streets with a bus stop 
  • Clean up and restore your street before 10 PM or dusk (whichever comes first)
  • Request only one block party per month 
  • Talk to your neighbors about and invite them to the party! 

Applicants are responsible for providing their own approved barricades, and an 8.5 x 11 street-closure sign. View a sample street closure sign

Is there a fee for block parties?

Block party permits are completely free for applicants in an effort to strengthen neighborhood spirit and promote increased pedestrian use of the right of way. If the guidelines listed above are not followed, or a complaint is received, an inspector may assess penalties. 

What if an emergency vehicle needs to get through or someone needs to get to their home during our party?

When setting up for your block party, make sure to keep any objects (tables, grills, play equipment) to one side of the street and assign an adult to each end of the street to move the barricades, if needed.

farmers market

Special activities are small events that temporarily close a non-arterial street and are open to the general public. Special Activities are larger than Neighborhood Block Parties, which close residential streets and are only for people living along that particular block.

Different activities including street fairs, farmers markets, and other community events can enliven neighborhoods, encourage walking, and support local businesses. Organizers are required to apply for a special activities Street Use permit to authorize the temporary closure and use of streets and sidewalks.

During a special activity, "STREET CLOSED" signs and barricades are required. These signs must meet SDOT requirements and be supplied by the group or person issued the Street Use permit. For specific details, visit the Seattle Traffic Control Manual webpage or view Chapter VIII Detours and Street Closures, to learn how to properly set up barricades. Neighborhood block party or play street closure signs are not acceptable for special activity closures.

Heavy items that cannot be easily moved are not allowed in the street area during the event, and a street that is on a bus route cannot be closed.

See CAM 2500, Street Use Permits for Special Activities, for additional information.

Farmers Markets

The Office of Economic Development (OED) administers the Farmers Market program for the City. An organization must meet the definition of a Farmers Market in order to qualify for this type of Street Use permit.

If your organization qualifies, OED will convene all necessary City departments in order to streamline the permitting process for the applicant. Similar to other Special Activity permits, Farmers Markets may only occur on non-arterial streets and is discouraged on Metro bus routes.

For more information about Farmers Markets, please visit the Office of Economic Development website.

alley world cup

Festival streets are designated portions of streets that can be opened for pedestrian-focused events on multiple occasions. A festival street designation allows community members to plan a series of events throughout the year with a single permit, instead of requiring a special activity permit for each event.

These streets are intended to help build neighborhood connections by hosting events that reflect the community's unique identity and interests. A proposal for a new festival street designation can be submitted by community groups, individuals, or any other organized local interest. As per SDOT Director's Rule #2-2012, the proposed festival street must have support from the surrounding neighborhood and requires the SDOT Director's final approval.

Currently, Seattle's designated festival streets are:

  • Canton Alley in the Chinatown-International District
  • South Roberto Maestas Festival Street in Beacon Hill
  • Nord Alley in Pioneer Square
  • Triangle Festival Street in West Seattle

If you're interested in designating a Festival Streets event in your community, view our Client Assistance Memo 2504 for more details.