San Diego

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Special Events

A Special Event Permit is required for an organized activity that incorporates the use of:
  • City public streets, sidewalks, rights-of-way; and/or
  • City public parks or other City public property; and/or
  • Outdoor private property including parking lots, only when the property is part of a Special Event Venue that includes City public property and permission has been received by the property owner/manager (for example, a parking lot used as part of a street festival venue).
Examples of activities that require a Special Event Permit include festivals, parades, runs/walks, and farmer/art markets.  

There is a $150 permit application processing fee 60 days or more prior to the event day and an additional $10 per business day late fee for applications received less than 60 days prior to the event date. Applications up to 30 days prior to an event will be accepted with applicable late fees. However, events that are less than 30 days out and do not have an application already submitted must receive approval from the Special Events & Filming Department Executive Director to submit a late application. Please email specialevents@sandiego.gov to request approval to submit a late application within 30 days of an event. It is strongly recommended that you submit your permit application at least 120 days prior to the proposed event date.

Special Event Planning Guide

The Special Event Planning Guide has been developed to guide you through the Citywide Special Event Permit Process and to provide you with guidelines and requirements associated with special event management in the City of San Diego. This is an important reference guide as you develop your event plans and complete your permit application.

COVID-19 Guidelines 

Please refer to guidance issued by the California Department of Public Health (CPDH) regarding the return to usual operations for most activities with recommendations for prevention protocols and mitigation for all eventsThe requirements and recommendations for negative testings / vaccine verification as issued by the CDPH will be in place until further notice.

Event organizers considering a large-scale event (including Mega Events) should consider the below protocols. While not required by the State or County Public Health Department, event organizers are strongly encouraged to have COVID prevention protocols and mitigation efforts in place in order to provide best efforts to ensure a safe event. 

  • Develop a safe reopening or COVID prevention plan (will assist in workers understanding specific roles)
  • Sanitation plan for restrooms (if applicable)
  • Food and beverage plan that incorporates COVID prevention techniques (if applicable)
  • Compliance enforcement plan
  • Social distancing when possible or at pinch points
  • Signage encouraging masking if unvaccinated or other requirements as determined by organizer
  • Hand sanitizer availability throughout event

NEW! Mixed Ages Pilot Program

The City of San Diego is implementing a PDF icon pilot program with criteria that will allow event organizers to apply for mixed ages to be present where alcohol is purchased and consumed within a fenced, outdoor special event venue effective January 1, 2022 through January 30, 2023. Instructions on the application process are available within the Eproval Special Event Permit Application portal. 

Special Events Storm Water and Recycling Compliance Videos

Other Special Event Related Permits

There are a number of different special event related permits that may be issued independent of a Citywide Special Event Permit or may be required in conjunction with a Citywide Special Event Permit. The proposed event venue, activities, components, attendance, and unique circumstances of the event are contributing factors to the final determination of the required permit types.

Following is a summary of the most common permits types you may be required to obtain if you are planning a special event or an activity associated with a special event.