Special Event Permit / Free Speech Special Event
What is a Special Event?
According to the City’s Special Events Ordinance, a Special Event is any event that:
- Will exceed the attendance limit set for each facility
- Will use amplified sound
- May interfere with traffic or access to public property
- Will use structures or equipment that require health & safety inspections (e.g. food booths)
The following types of events may also be considered Special Events:
- Commercial events (e.g. fairs, carnivals, farmers markets, etc.)
- Organized athletic events (except those held by leagues/organizations already approved to use City fields and facilities)
- Community events (e.g. beach or park clean-ups, a sandcastle building contest, hikes and nature walks)
Can I hold a Free Speech Event?
Free Speech Events are permitted at City Parks and in the public-right-of way without a permit. Free Speech events are events for which the principal purpose is the expression of free speech rights as protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution or by Article 1, Section 2 of the California Constitution. A permit will be required for any event that exceeds Free Speech Event attendance limits, uses amplified sound, may interfere with traffic, ingress, or egress; or will use structures that require health and safety inspections.
For more information on Free Speech Events, view the Free Speech Event procedures:
What is the maximum attendance allowed before an event needs a Special Event Permit?
The Special Event Permit attendance threshold varies by location. The maximum attendance threshold for each location can be found in Table 12.20.040-1. Any event that exceeds the attendance threshold for a location may be considered Special Event and require a permit.
What is the maximum attendance allowed for a Special Event?
The maximum allowed attendance for a Special Event varies by location. The maximum event attendance allowed at each location can be found in Table 12.20.040.
Where are Special Events allowed?
Special Event Permits may be issued for events at the Civic Center/Upper Point Vicente Park, Hesse Park, Lower Point Vicente Park/Interpretive Center, Ryan Park, Ladera Linda Park, and Eastview Park.
Special Events are not permitted at Del Cerro Park, Vanderlip Park, Abalone Cove, Marilyn Ryan Sunset Park, Founders Park, Grandview Park, Pelican Cove Park, or in the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve. Exceptions may be made for City sponsored and mission-aligned events, such as a park or beach cleanups.
Is a Special Event Permit required for an outdoor picnic?
The ordinance is not designed to regulate picnics or impromptu social gatherings in the parks, but all groups must comply with park rules and City ordinances. If a large, organized group gathering is planned, the organizer may need to obtain a Special Event Permit.
If a large group gathers in the park without notice, it is important to greet them and inform them of the park rules. Ensure that they understand and comply with all park rules and limitations outlined in the Special Events Ordinance (no consumption of alcohol, no amplified sound, no structures, no blocking access for the public, etc.). If a group is not compliant, it may be necessary to contact the Sheriff’s Dept. for assistance.
Are group hikes Special Events?
Group hikes are permitted in the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve as long as they do not exceed the maximum group/event attendance or meet any of criteria defining a Special Event. Any event that exceeds the maximum event/group attendance, uses amplified sound, may interfere with traffic or access to public property, or uses structures that require health & safety inspections may be considered a Special Event and is not permitted in the preserve.
Are any events exempt from the requirements?
City sponsored events (e.g. July 4th Celebration) and City partnered events (e.g. Whale of a Day, PVPLC hikes) do not require Special Event Permits; however, they will still need to be in compliance with all City Council approved regulations.
Permits for mission-aligned events (events aligned with the City’s goals of habitat and sensitive species preservation and protection of the City’s open spaces), as well as for nonprofit and educational events, may be subject to reduced or waived fees.
How does an event organizer apply for a Special Event Permit?
Who should I contact if I want to hold a special event?
For special events in City Parks and Recreation facilities, contact the Recreation and Parks office at 310-544-5260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For special Events in the public right of way, contact the Public Work Department at 310-544-5252 or
For special events on private property, contact the Community Development Department at 310-544-5228.