Play Streets & Block Parties

Permit Counter Temporary Closures

To protect the health and safety of our staff and customers, and to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19, we closed our public-facing customer service counters on Monday, March 16, 2020. Our counters remain closed until further notice. This includes both the Street Use and the Traffic and Parking permit counters at the Seattle Municipal Tower on floors 23 and 37. We are still processing permit applications.

You can submit applications for all permit types online through the Seattle Services Portal.

Our staff will be available to provide application coaching and assist with issuing permits by phone or e-mail.

Play streets and block parties are a fun and easy way to build community and get to know your neighbors. Street closures can be hosted on a recurring basis, up to 3 days a week for a maximum of 12 hours per week.  Gather your neighbors to hold a block party in your street or turn the street over to the kids for play! With a free permit, you can host your event on your neighborhood non-arterial street! Best of all, the permit is free. 

Just follow these steps:

Step 1: Getting Started

Make sure your play street is:

  • Free and open to the general public
  • No greater than one block long and does not include an intersection
  • On a non-arterial street. You can find your street type here:
    • If there is no line—dotted or solid—running along the middle of the street, it is most likely a non-arterial street.
    • The map linked above shows non-arterials as grey and arterials in other colors
  • Not on a street that buses run on or an emergency vehicle route
  • Planned to occur between 9:00 AM – and dusk (or until 9:00 PM if dusk is later than that), including setup/cleanup.

Special guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic: 

  • You'll need to be extra thoughtful about gathering. While we all are looking forward to the return of warm weather, we need to make sure that gatherings are safe. Be sure to review the State guidelines linked below when planning: 
  • If you want to have food, you will want to consider the best way to do so safely. It may be best to have neighbors bring their own food to limit sharing serving utensils and close contact. Another idea may be to have a food truck vendor at your street closure. Tell the vendor to apply for a Temporary Vending Permit, which we're currently offering for free under our Temporary Outdoor Permits!   

When planning the setup of your event:

  • Furniture, structures, and equipment in the street should be easy to move immediately if emergency access is required.
  • Large structures like temporary stages, and bouncy housesare not allowed under this permit. 
  • Make sure to follow the City Noise Ordinance. As long as music isn't loud enough to disrupt nearby neighbors and ends before 9 PM, you're most likely following the rules. 

Step 2: Talk to your Neighbors

We encourage you to communicate with your neighbors before applying for a permit, keeping in mind social distancing and other COVID-19 safety guidance. Coordinating with your neighbors in advance may also help you select dates that don't conflict with another neighbor, who may have visitors or a construction project planned the same day that will bring extra vehicles to your street. You can also identify people who are able to volunteer to help make your event a success! You can use these flyers to notify your neighbors.

An image of the post card announcing plans for a play street closure.

If you plan to reach out to your neighbors by e-mail or online, here's a sample e-mail or post for you to use:

Sample Email or Post

Hello!

We are applying for a free permit from the Seattle Department of Transportation to close our street for some outdoor fun and recreation in our street! We plan to follow Public Health and State guidelines to keep participants socially distant and safe. The street closure will only restrict through traffic. All local traffic, including neighbors, visitors, deliveries, and emergency vehicles, will still be able to access the street. We are thinking of requesting (day/days of week) between (start time) and (end time), beginning on (date) and ending on (date).

Before we submit our application, we would like to know what you think of this idea and whether you have any questions we can answer. Please let us know by (date) if you have any questions or concerns about this. You can contact us at (email address and/or phone number).

Thanks!


Step 3: Apply for your FREE permit

Try to submit your application at least 14 days before your first event.  When you are ready to apply, head to the Seattle Services Portal by using the button to the right to login! Note: if you’ve never used the Portal before, you’ll need to register and set up an account first. See this helpful article or video on how to do this. Once you are logged in, follow the steps below or check out the instructions in this article:

  • Under Create New select "Permits-Street Use"
  • Select "Short Term Use" and "Block Party" record type.
  • During the application, you will need to provide the host contact information, your proposed dates and times (or if a recurring closure, the recurring days and times), a brief description of your planned activities that will happen in the street, and what part of the street you wish to close (half block closures are also allowed).
  • Fill out and upload the appropriate street closure template:

Step 4: Prepare to close the street

As the permit holder, you are responsible for procuring the required signage and barricades as shown on the approved street closure template uploaded to the permit's Documents tab. 

Barricade Basics

  • At the ends of your closure, set up barricades no more than 6’ apart and connect them with streamers or rope
  • Place barricades behind the extension of the sidewalk to make it easy for people to cross the street
  • If you are adjacent to an arterial street, you must use Type 3 barricades (a quick internet search will show you some places to rent Type 3 barricades).
  • If you are adjacent a non-arterial street, you may use Type 2 barricades or household items like personal trash bins or furniture that are at least 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

Signs, too!

  • Play Streets and Block Parties abutting arterial require no-turn signs and Type III barricades as shown on the approved street closure template.  The permittee is responsible for renting or purchasing these traffic control signs. 
  • Install a 36"x24" “STREET CLOSED” sign at the center of the street on your Type II/III barricade as shown on the approved street closure template. 
  • Here is a PDF version of the sign that you can either print yourself or at a print shop. If you’re not printing at a print shop and don’t have a printer that can print on this scale, you can still print this PDF, but will need to assemble the sign. You can find  instructions on how to print the sign for assembly here.
  • Post  King County Public Health signs at the entrances on either side of the street closure.
  • Print informational signs to inform others why the street is closed.
  • Signs should be attached to a barricade a minimum of one foot above street grade to be easily visible to drivers.

If you need help getting appropriate barricades for your street, we have limited financial resources and may be able to offer assistance. Please email us at  publicspace@seattle.gov  to learn more.


Step 5: Safely close your street and have fun!

It’s hard to have fun if you’re worried about the safety of your children and friends, so make sure you close the street before you begin! Set up your barricades and signs. Agree on which adult(s) will monitor the barricades. At least one adult must be visible from both barricades and on-site at all times to quickly move the barricades for local traffic. Remember -- local access, deliveries, and emergency vehicles are allowed to enter the closure. The success of the program and safety of your neighbors relies on hosts being alert and responsive to their needs.

A 20-foot fire lane must be maintained at all times, so only easily movable equipment should be on the street. Any large objects that cannot be easily moved are not allowed in the street or on the sidewalk. That’s why we don’t allow bouncy houses under this permit.

Ok, NOW it’s time to have fun!


Step 6: Clean up and remove barricades

When your event is over, please make sure the street is empty of equipment and any activity debris. Clean-up is a great activity to share with all the people who participated! Be sure to remove the barricades and signs and reopen the street to through traffic. 

We’d love to hear from you if you’d like to share what went well, ideas for improvement, or photos from your event. Feel free to email us at publicspace@seattle.gov  or tag us on Twitter at @SeattleDOT!

National Night Out 

Night Out is an annual national event traditionally held in August that is promoted in Seattle by the Seattle Police Department Crime Prevention team. SDOT does not issue permits for these events; instead, participants register on the Night Out web page. Please check that web page for any updates for 2021.