Public Facility Rental and Use
This page provides examples of local government policies and forms for the rental and use of public facilities in Washington State, including community centers, parks, and meeting rooms.
Many jurisdictions have established policies for the use of public facilities by private individuals, companies, or nonprofit organizations. These policies typically address topics such as (but not limited to):
- Rental rates, often including discounts for residents or nonprofits
- Scheduling, changes, and cancellation
- Deposits and payment
- Liability and insurance requirements
- Parking and noise
- Prohibited activities, such as religious, political, or commercial uses
- Food and drinks, including catering and alcohol use
- Pets and service animals
- Facility cleanup
A public agency should generally receive some sort of compensation for the use of its facilities to avoid an improper gift of public funds. At a minimum, the fee or rental charge should at least cover the cost of operating the facility for the event (maintenance, utilities, staffing, etc.).
Many jurisdictions charge lower fees for residents, since residents support the facilities through taxes. (See Clarkston v. Asotin County Rural Library Board, 18 Wn. App. 869 (1977)). Many jurisdictions also charge reduced rates to registered nonprofit organizations. Similarly situated individuals and groups should be treated the same, so that no entity receives unfair or preferential treatment.
Examples of public facility rentals are widely available online, since many jurisdictions have set up online reservation systems. Below are just a few selected examples, including rental policies, application forms, and related documents.
- Bellevue Facility Rental Guidelines (2020)
- Cheney Resolution No. E-014 (2012) - Includes facility rental policy, decoration guidelines, and application form
- Clallam County Code Sec. 15.32.100 - Requires special use permit for short-term use of county facilities for non-county-authorized purposes
- Port of Bellingham Public Space Use Policies and Procedures (2014). Online reservation system includes extensive resources, including event and cleaning checklists, floor plans, a list of prequalified caterers, and virtual tours.
- Sequim Application for the Use of Public Facilities (2019)
- Sultan Application for Use of City Facilities (2018)
Below are examples of policies and forms for meeting rooms such as those found in city halls, libraries, or other public buildings.
- Bellingham Public Library Room Reservations - Online meeting room reservation system, may also be reserved by phone.
- Colville Public Library Meeting Room Usage Agreement (2010)
- King County Public Library Meeting Room Use Policy (2016)
- Mid-Columbia Libraries Meeting Room Policy (2013)
- Poulsbo City Hall Meeting Room Policies and Application (2017)
- Shoreline Fire Department Public Meeting Room Guidelines and Agreement (2009)
- Skagit Transit Meeting Room Rental Agreement and Terms (2017)
- Walla Walla Regional Airport Community Meeting Room Online Reservation Form
Below are examples of policies and forms for community centers.
- Anacortes Depot Arts and Community Center Rental Information & Policies (2014)
- Ellensburg Hal Holmes Center Reservation Contract (2016)
- Kettle Falls Community Center/Kitchen Rental Policy (2016)
- Port Orchard Active Club Building Facility Use Application and Agreement (2016)- Free for youth organizations, 50% discount for seniors
- SeaTac Community Center Facility Rental Application (2017)
- Vancouver Firstenburg Community Center Event Rental Policies (2017) - Includes alcohol policy and prices/FAQs for small events (45 or fewer people) and large events (more than 45 people)
- Yelm Community Center Rental Policies (2017)
Below are examples of rental policies and agreements for larger facilities intended for weddings, conferences, banquets, and other large events.
- Bellingham Create Your Special Day at the Whatcom Museum (2015) - Brochure includes FAQs, rates, and approved caterers
- Federal Way Dumas Bay Centre - Includes rental inquiry form, rates, and maps/virtual tour
- Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds & Event Center Fee and Rental Schedule (2023) - Policies and rates for every fairground facility, plus RV and boat storage
- La Conner Maple Hall/Maple Center Rental Agreement (2016) - Building rental includes kitchen, multiple rooms, and outdoor patio
- Puyallup Pioneer Park Pavilion Rental Information (2016) - Large facility with kitchen, accommodates over 500 people
Below are examples of policies and forms for park and recreation facilities. (For athletic and sporting rentals, see the next section.)
- Des Moines Parks, Recreation & Senior Services Facility Rentals
- Kettle Falls Park Reservation Policy (2016) – Amending the city park regulations to include a new park reservation policy.
- Kirkland Park Facility Rental Information Guide (2014)
- La Conner Pioneer Park Rental Agreement (2016)
- Newcastle Park Shelter Reservation Guidelines and Application (2017)
- Pierce County Spanaway Park Picnic Reservations - Includes application form (2017)
- SeaTac Picnic Shelter Reservation Form (2017)
- Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Facility Usage Application (2021)
- Tacoma Metropolitan Park District Rentals - Website includes policies, permits, rental contracts, and a useful tool to compare different venues at a glance
Below are examples of policies and forms for formal or informal use of sporting and athletic facilities.
- Issaquah Athletic Field Rental Guide (2017) - Includes application processes for sports teams, leagues, tournaments, and clinics
- Kirkland Athletic Field Use Policies (2016)
- West Richland Athletic Field Reservation Form and Agreement (2016)
Insurance and alcohol policies are usually addressed within the main public facility rental policy or agreement, but sometimes they are addressed through separate policies.
- DuPont Guidelines for Serving Alcohol at City Parks or Facilities (2011) - May only serve beer, wine, or champagne at specified facilities and only with prior approval
- Longview Insurance & Alcohol Policy - Insurance required for all events open to the public, with alcohol, or sometimes with amplified sound and dancing
- Spokane Sale or Consumption of Alcohol in Parks Policy (2011)
- Spokane County Parks, Recreation & Golf Indemnification & Insurance Requirements (2011)
- Spokane Valley Alcoholic Beverage Permit Application (2017)
Some jurisdictions provide discounted rental rates to nonprofit organizations or volunteer groups. A couple examples are below.