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Special Event Permit


Scott Ingels

San Rafael Police Department
1375 Fifth Avenue
San Rafael, CA 94901

Are You Planning a Special Event in San Rafael?

Here are a few things that you need to know to get started. If your event takes place in the public right of way you will need to get a Special Event Permit. This includes:

  • Parades
  • Farmers markets
  • Festivals
  • Large Athletic Events (bicycle race, marathon, etc)
  • Block Parties

Special event applications are managed by the San Rafael Police Department and must be submitted at least 90 days prior to the date of the proposed event. If you aren't sure if your event qualifies as a special event read our frequently asked questions below and contact our team with any questions.

Special Events in City Parks or Facilities
If your special event takes place at a City-owned park or facility please contact Library and Recreation to ensure that space is available for the date of your event.

Frequently Asked Questions

A Special Event Permit is required to be obtained from the Police Department by any person or group desiring to sponsor a parade, athletic event, or other special event on a city street, sidewalk, or other city owned land or improvements within the city limits. 19.30.050 S.R.M.C.

A Special Event Permit is not required for the following:

  1. Funeral processions
  2. A governmental agency acting within the scope of its functions
  3. Students going to and from school classes or participating in educational activities, providing such activity is authorized by the school district and is under the immediate direction and supervision of the school authorities authorized by the school district to approve and supervise such activity. 19.30.050 S.R.M.C.

Special Event Permit applications and all supporting documents must be received not less than (90) days prior to the event date. Applications submitted fewer than 90 days prior to the event date may be denied. Do not include payment with the application; the event sponsor will be invoiced by the Police Department after the permit application has been processed and approved.

Start your application here: San Rafael Permitting Portal (

Application and processing fee

  • $80.00 for standard/commercial events
  • $40.00 for non-profit fundraising events

Police Services – Security, Traffic Control:

  • When Police Services are required, the billing rate is variable based on the personnel assigned to the event.  Please inquire to discuss billing rates.

City of San Rafael Encroachment permit,  if applicable, fees vary depending on the event.

City of San Rafael Business License, if applicable:


If the event requires police department staffing due to road closures or site security, police department personnel will be required. The sponsor of the event shall be required to prepay the estimated costs of providing the officers prior to the issuance of the event permit. The personnel fees will be calculated by determining the number of police officers who will be required, the number of hours the officers will be on duty, and the city’s full cost of providing the officers on an hourly basis. If the actual cost to the city of providing the officers on the day of the event exceeds the sponsor’s deposit, the sponsor shall be billed for the difference.

Yes. A block party, defined as a gathering on a residential street which requires the closure of a street or portion of the street to vehicular traffic, typically occurs on a dead-end street, cul-de-sac, or court. In addition to the Special Event Permit Application, you must also acquire written permission from all the neighbors affected by the street closure; the form must contain the following:

  • Day, Date, and time of the planned block party
  • Description of activities
  • Name, address, and signature of all property owners and residents on the closed street

Public Liability Insurance in the minimum of $1,000,000 with the City of San Rafael named as “Additionally Insured” shall be provided to protect the City from loss, liabilities, damages and/or injuries to persons and property attending the permitted use. Special circumstances may require up to 2,000,000 of coverage.

The City of San Rafael developed the San Rafael City Plaza (the Plaza) as a public gathering space. It is the City’s goal to permit events and assemblies in the Plaza that serve the general public and respect the right of free speech. The City must, however, manage the use of the Plaza regarding activities and their impact on merchants, residents and Downtown visitors. The following are the Plaza Public Event and Assembly Rules and Regulations. Find San Rafael City Plaza Use Regulations on the City website.

A nonprofit organization selling donated or purchased alcohol at a special event is required to obtain a Daily License from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Click (here) for ABC.  The alcohol may be sold by the glass or included in a door charge or other donation; it cannot be given away free.

A winery or brewery may assist in pouring alcohol outside of their premises only if a nonprofit organization sponsors the event and obtains a Daily License.

A private person hosting a special event does not need to obtain a Daily License, as long as the event is not open to the public, the alcohol and the event admission are free, and the premises is not a restaurant, bar, winery or brewery (23399.1 B&P Code).

Sponsoring organizations are responsible for the conduct of the special event. Contact the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (707)576-2165 for further information.


An Encroachment Permit from the City of San Rafael is required any time someone encroaches on the public right of way. For information about encroachment permits contact Public Works.

City of San Rafael Public Works
Encroachment Permits Webpage
Contact Public Works via Email
Telephone: (415) 485-3355.

Yes. Special Event Permit applications may be denied for reasons including, but not limited to incomplete or false information on the application or substantial interruption to traffic. 8.10.040 S.R.M.C.

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