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Community Services Department Community Services Department Updates

Codes & Rules for Use of Parks

Rules and municipal codes have been established to promote safety, minimize conflicts between users, to preserve and protect our parks.


Municipal Code and Official Rules

Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need a permit?

        Small casual gatherings like picnics, weddings or a child's birthday party that are less than 150 people and adhere to the following criteria do not require a permit and are first come, first served in public areas.

• Tables, chairs, runners and small archways.
• Canopies under 400 square feet
• Stages under 30” high
• Amplified sound between 8 am – 10 pm
We do ask that you be considerate of neighbors and other park/beach visitors. Sound is subject to the noise ordinance and Santa Monica Police can ask the sound to be turned down or off if complaints are received from the surrounding public.
         NOT OKAY:
• Structures that would require Building and Safety Permits or Fire Permits • Tents with side panels • Vehicles on park turf or pathways, sand, bike path or Ocean Front Walk • Staking anything into turf or attaching anything to trees, shrubs, facilities and other amenities • Blocking sidewalks or pedestrian pathways • Fires, cooking, alcohol, glass containers and smoking • Generators

        Organized community events that expect more than 150 people and meet the following criteria may be require an event permit. More information including how to apply for a community event permit may be found on the Event Permit FAQ page. 

           • A parade, procession, or assembly consisting of persons, animals, vehicles, or any combination thereof, which will assemble or travel in unison on any public street, highway, alley, sidewalk or other public way that may obstruct or interfere with pedestrian or vehicular traffic or does not comply with normal or usual traffic regulations or controls.

• Any activity or event with 150 or more people on public property not subject to the requirements above (75 or more persons on the Third Street Promenade).

• Any other activity or event on public property requiring a tent, canopy, or other temporary structure (e.g., stage, bleachers, etc.) requiring a permit from the City's Fire Department or Building & Safety Division. 

        Youth or adult group activities that require a reserved space or facility at the beach, surf instruction and camps, group or private fitness training in parks, sports fields may require a permit or rental application. More information including how to reserve may be found on the Permits & Rentals FAQ page. 
We're holding a birthday party at a Santa Monica park. Are bounce houses allowed?
No. Jumpers, bounce houses, or “moonbounces” are not permitted in the parks. 
May I BBQ ?
Barbecuing is allowed only in City-provided BBQ grills found at Airport, Clover, Marine and Virginia Avenue Parks (SMMC 4.55.100). You do not need a permit (for groups under 150 people), but reservations are recommended. Picnic areas will grills are located at Airport Park, Clover Park, and Marine Park. Reservations can be made online. See the Group BBQ Area page for more information.
May I smoke?
Smoking is prohibited within the boundaries of any City park which includes the parking lot (SMMC 4.44.020).
Is alcohol allowed?
Possession of an opened alcoholic beverage is illegal (SMMC 4.08.200).
Are dogs welcome?
Off-leash areas for dogs are available at Airport, Memorial, Joslyn (Herb Katz Dog Park), and Pacific Avenue Parks. Dogs are welcome in parks, but must be restrained on a leash (SMMC 4.04.155) and may not enter playgrounds, courts (tennis, basketball, etc.), playing fields, park and public buildings, or the beach (SMMC 4.04.160).  
Are playgrounds for kids?
Yes, we want kids to play but parents and caregivers should look for signs indicating appropriate ages for use of play equipment (Rule III).  Adults without children are not allowed in a playground (SMMC 4.55.160).  Adults must not attach ropes, bands or exercise equipment to playground equipment (Rule III).
Can I play soccer on a grassy area?
Informal soccer games are allowed on turf areas, but shoes with cleats must not be worn as these damage the grass (Rule I).
Are fireworks allowed?
Fireworks are not permitted in City parks, or anywhere in the City, except at special events with prior City Council approval (SMMC 8.40.020)
Would it be okay if I picked a bunch of flowers?
Flowers, especially those in our lovely Palisades Park rose garden are for the enjoyment of all.  Picking flowers, especially roses, can damage the plant and is prohibited (SMMC 4.55.040)
May I fly a model airplane?
These are not allowed in parks, the beach, or beach parking lot (SMMC 4.55.110).
Is golfing allowed?
Not in parks or at the beach (SMMC 4.55.045)
May I slackline between park trees?
Attaching wire, rope or any object to a public tree is prohibited (SMMC 7.40.140).
Why are the Palisades’ bluffs off-limits?
The bluffs are very fragile and subject to erosion.  The area is very unsafe and should not be entered (SMMC 3.36.115).   
Are skateboards, roller skates, in-line skates, and scooters allowed? 
Yes, in general, if used in a safe manner, respectful of other park users. These are not allowed on tennis and basketball courts, or on athletic, playing or synthetic fields (Rules II, IV, and VI).
May I sell things?
Vending (the offering of merchandise, food, beverages, admission tickets, services, etc. for profit) at parks is only allowed at City-produced events, or in the form of classes taught by a City-contracted instructor (SMMC 6.36.100).
What if I violate a municipal code or rule?
Violations may result in a citation, fine or other penalties. 
Camping (SMMC 4.08.095), interfering with maintenance and repair work (SMMC 4.55.090), amplified sound between the hours of 10PM and 8AM (SMMC 4.12.100), posting signs or handbills (SMMC 4.08.480), are all prohibited in parks.
For More Information

Permits and rules 

Field Permits

Park Maintenance 

Park Restroom Maintenance

Classes & Programs


Classes & Programs at
Virginia Ave Park


Improvement Projects


Government Outreach
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