Special Events Permits
This page provides sample policies regulating various special events in Washington State, including some private events that may impact traffic, the street right-of-way (ROW), and other public property.
Special events, such as fun runs, bike-a-thons, parades, and street fairs promote tourism, foster economic revitalization of downtowns and neighborhoods, and offer cultural activities for residents. Other events such as neighborhood block parties or music festivals can help build community.
Cities and counties normally encourage such events as long as they can ensure that the environment both allows attendees to enjoy the experience but also adequately provides for the protection of all participants involved.
Many of the sample codes below include similar components, such as:
- Defining what a special event is, either by listing several types (e.g., parade, fun run) or by describing how it will impact the property, facilities, or operations of jurisdiction, and/or the public right-of-way (ROW),
- Offering exemptions from permitting, such as for weddings, funerals, events sponsored by the jurisdiction, and/or small gatherings of individuals in publicly owned spaces,
- Outlining the requirements for obtaining a permit and the minimum standards for holding an event
- Describing the application process, fees, and grounds for denial of permit,
- Identifying who is appointed to approve permits (e.g. administrative head, planning dept, special event coordinator, parks and recreation department),
- Describing violations and conditions under which a permit would be revoked or suspended, and
- Requiring event organizers have insurance and indemnify the jurisdiction.
Less common are the following components:
- Requiring a cleaning/damage deposit,
- Prohibiting event organizer from using name, logo, or images of jurisdiction in promotional material without pre-approval from the agency, or
- Specifically exempting from permitting requirements any protected events under the 1st and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution (e.g., rally, march, protest).
For the majority of the codes listed below, the chapter title includes the words "special," "event" and/or "permit," unless otherwise noted in parenthesis.
- Bainbridge Island Municipal Code Ch. 12.06 – Parades and Assemblies
- Battle Ground Municipal Code Ch. 8.36
- Bellevue – The city’s Special Events Committee, composed of city staff and community members, helps to administer the code, establish event conditions and fees, consider issues related to safety, and review and recommend event permits.
- Coupeville Municipal Code Ch. 5.34 – Parades, Athletic Events and Other Special Events
- Fircrest Municipal Code Ch. 9.90
- Friday Harbor Municipal Code Ch. 12.28 – Private Use of Public Property
- Gig Harbor Municipal Code Ch. 5.28
- Issaquah Municipal Code Ch. 5.14
- Leavenworth Municipal Code Ch. 5.38 – Festivals
- Medina Municipal Code Ch. 9.40
- Monroe Municipal Code Ch. 5.28
- Oak Harbor Municipal Code Ch. 5.55 — Also see the city’s 2018 Permitting Guide.
- Quincy Ordinance No. 22-579 (2022) — Adds a new chapter regarding the policy and procedures relating to special events. Includes a copy of the permit application form.
- Snohomish County Municipal Code Ch. 5.10
- University Place Municipal Code Ch. 5.10 — Also see the Special Events Permit Application.
- Walla Walla Municipal Code Ch. 10.27
- Woodland Ordinance No. 1517 (2022) — Requires permits for any special event involving city property and/or impacting city streets, with a limited number of exceptions as enumerated in the municipal code. Details permit application and approval process.
- Woodinville Municipal Code Ch. 8.12
Below are a few examples special event applications, webpages, and related forms. Most special event permit applications include a hold-harmless agreement.
- Bainbridge Island Special Event Permit Application (2018) — Covers type of event, signage, pyrotechnics, parking, ROW issues, food, beverages, sanitation, and insurance.
- Coupeville Special Events Permit Application (2017) — Covers type of event, parking, beverages (beer garden), animals, tents, garbage recycling plan, street closures requested and insurance. Requires organizers of some events to notify neighbors of the event.
- Fircrest Special Events Permit Application (2017) — Covers type of event, street closures requested parking, beverages (beer garden), animals, tents, garbage/recycling plan, and insurance. Checklist of items included.
- Friday Harbor Event Permits — Provides an overview of special event rules and regulations and includes the following downloadable applications related to events: community event sign permit, event permit, private use of public property permit, and street closure application.
- Gig Harbor Special Events Permits — Provides an overview of special event rules and regulations and includes the following downloadable applications related to events: special event permit, encroachment permit, fire code permit, and temporary sign permit. Also see the city’s 2018 Special Event Guide.
- Issaquah Special Use and Events – Includes application forms for special events and special use of the ROW; also has information on insurance requirements.
- Kennewick Special Events & Tournaments— Offers an overview of steps to applying for a permit and includes these downloadable forms: fee schedule, event guide, sample insurance and emergency management plans, and sample 5K run plans. Application is entirely online.
- Monroe Special Event Information Sheet and Application Packet (2019) — Covers event requirements, including insurance requirements, and includes event application. Also requires block party organizers to get permission from homeowners before requesting a road closure.
- Moses Lake Special Event Permit Application (2018) — Covers rules and requirements. Includes application, grounds for permit denial, insurance, and form for dumpsters rental and/or electrical services.
- Pullman Noise Variance Application (2010) — Simple, one-page application form
- Sequim Special Event Permit Application — Contains detailed operational area, vendor plan, route or event security plan, community approval, and event promotion plans. Sequim Municipal Code Ch. 8.38 covers special events.
- Tacoma Special Event and Film Permits — Includes downloadable application form, event tip sheet, fee schedule, and master film application form, and links to the event requirements page. The Fire Marshal Special Events page includes a downloadable FAQ, fire safety handouts, flame-proofing resources, and applications for any specialized event with an open flame, fireworks, or outdoor structures.
- Woodinville Special Events Permit Application (2017) — Simple, two-page form.
Seattle Fire Department
- Special Event Cost Recovery (2019) — Report of audit carried out to determine the extent to which the department recovers the cost of special event staffing through its contracts with event promoters.