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Community and Cultural Services

Event Permit FAQs

When is an event permit required?

In Santa Monica, the following activities, regardless of content or purpose, require a City event permit:

  • 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.

For additional instances when an event permit may be required, contact the Community Events Office at 310-458-8300.

What happens if I need an event permit and I don't have one?

Subject to Santa Monica's Community Events Ordinance holding an event without a permit is a misdemeanor.

Do I need a Community Event Permit for events on private property?

Special events held entirely on private property do not require a City Event Permit, but may require a Temporary Use Permit from the City's Planning Department. Temporary Use Permits should be filed at least 2 weeks prior to the event. Events held at the Santa Monica Airport and school events on school district property are exempt from this requirement. Private schools, public school events on non-district property, non-school events on school district property, and church events require a Temporary Use Permit. Call 310-458-8341 for more information on Temporary Use Permits.

How do I determine what category my event falls under?

There are 3 event categories, with specific requirements for each.

Category 1: 

  • Recreation (games, arts & crafts activities, reunions, pep rallies, dances, and other parties like birthdays, weddings and bar mitzvahs)
  • Competition/Contests (surfing contests and other participatory events)
  • Spectator Sports (beach volleyball tournaments)
  • Athletic Events (races)
  • Circuses, Fairs, and Carnivals (events with booths, games, rides, and similar amusements)
  • Food-related Events (barbecues, cook-offs, picnics, food distribution, food festivals)
  • Beach/Park Clean-ups
  • Training Activities (corporate sessions, team-building activities)

Note: Category 1 Events are not permitted at the beach or beach parking lots from July 1 through Labor Day.

Category 2: Events not included in Category 1, which require a permit from Building and Safety and/or the Fire Department for the placement of a tent, canopy, or other temporary structure as detailed in Section VII (4) and (5) of the Community Events Administrative Instruction.

Category 3: Events not included in Category 1 or 2 which do not require a permit from Building and Safety and/or the Fire Department as detailed in Section VII (4) and (5) of the Community Events Administrative Instruction. (e.g. marches, parades, demonstrations, fundraiser events or walks)

When is the application and application fee due?

Applications must be submitted no more than one year prior to event date. Depending on the event category, applications may be received thirty (30) days less prior to the event date.

Application fees vary by event category. Upon preliminary approval, please submit the appropriate application fee to the Community Events Office. The application fee is non-refundable and required prior to the application being processed. An administrative fee will be required prior to an event permit being issued. The administrative fee ranges from $96.27 -$704.12, depending on the complexity of the event and staff hours required to process the application.

Category Type         Application Submitted                   Application Fee
Category 1 16+ weeks in advance $79.48
12-15 weeks in advance $151.12
30 days-11 weeks in advance $302.25
Category 2 3 business days $50.00
Category 3 2 days $50.00
Is there a clean-up/damage deposit?

A refundable clean-up/damage deposit may be required for Category 1 events. The following is the minimum deposit schedule:

0-500 People No food/drink: $0; with food/drink: $500
500-1000 People: No food drink: $500; with food drink: $1,000
1000+ People: No food/drink: $1,000; with food/drink: $1,500

Event organizers are responsible for ensuring that the event area is clean and that all litter is removed immediately following the event. Failure to do so will forfeit the clean-up/damage deposit. If City property is destroyed or damaged by reason of event permittee’s use, event, or activity, and the damage or destruction is directly attributable to the permittee, the permittee will be required to reimburse the City for the actual replacement or repair cost of the destroyed or damaged property.

What are the insurance requirements?

For Category 1 events, the City may require general liability insurance in the amount of at least $1,000,000 per occurrence. In addition, some events may require auto, liquor, participant or garage-keeper’s liability and may involve higher limits. Event organizers have the option of purchasing a liability insurance policy from the City to meet established requirements for holding a permitted community event. The insurance coverage protects both event organizers and the city from possible claims for personal injury or property damage which could arise from a permitted event. This optional insurance may be purchased by the day; its cost is dependent on the number of days, the size and the type of event to be insured. 

There will be filming at my event. Do I need a special film permit?

Filming at events in Santa Monica requires a Film Permit from the Public Works Department. More information: Filming in Santa Monica.

Will I need a Fire Department Permit?

The Fire Department reviews and approves event site plans to ensure that set-up does not impede emergency vehicle access and that there is adequate exiting at the event. The Fire Department also approves the use of tents/canopies, cooking/open flame devices, vehicle fuel, generators, and pyrotechnic special effects. Depending on expected attendance and other factors, the Fire Department may determine that an on-site Fire Safety Officer will be needed. The event organizer will be charged the full cost of the Fire Safety Officer’s time.

When is a Parking & Transportation Management Plan required?

A Parking and Transportation Management Plan is required for all Category 1 events. Category 2 and 3 events are required to comply with a City-provided plan if one has been established.

When is a Police & Security Plan is required?

The Santa Monica Police Department will determine if police will need to be hired for the event to ensure public safety, keep the peace, enforce relevant laws, codes and ordinances, and assist with crowd control.

Where can I find more information on the specific requirements for the Community Events Permit?
What sites may be permitted for events, parades, or races?

See Available Sites.

Community Events
Clover Park
2600 Ocean Park Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405

For more information:
communityevents@smgov.net
310-458-8300

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