What to Expect When Obtaining a Special Event Permit

Picture this: you are at a high-end fashion show for a brand new designer at a local museum.

The music is great, there are plenty of people, and you start to wonder, ‘Are they even allowed to hold fashion show here?’ The answer is – maybe – depending on if the event planner or host obtained a Special Event Permit for the location.

Each jurisdiction is different in what it qualifies as a Temporary Special Event (TSE). Typically, TSEs are qualified based on the following qualities:

    • There are a high number of projected attendees; the specific number differs based on jurisdiction  

    • A structure will be erected such as a large canopy, tent, or stage  

    • Materials will be used that will require monitoring (i.e. fireworks)  

    • Some sort of performance will take place

Again, the specifics of these qualities will be determined by the local jurisdiction. While I may have painted the picture in your head of a fashion scene, TSEs come in all shapes and sizes and they require permits. Whether it’s a product launch party, a holiday lighting ceremony, or a movie premier, you will need to follow the special event permitting process.

What do city officials look for when they are reviewing a TSE permit application? The most important factor is safety:

    • How many people can the event location sustain?

    • Are there any obstructions to egress (exiting)?

    • Will the event cause any fire or safety hazards?

While the timelines to getting Special Event Permits are not as lengthy as traditional building permits, they can be complex all the same. The process is typically more complex when there is a need to set up a temporary structure such as a wall or stage. Additionally, serving food can add a health department review to the process, increasing the timeline.

Timelines, depending on jurisdiction, vary from five consecutive days to forty-five business days. It is wise to conduct due diligence as you start designing the event itself: will there be food trucks, sanitation requirements, etc. This will help you get an estimate of what type of timeline you are working with in your jurisdiction.

Here is a rough outline of the departments you’ll be dealing with when looking to obtain a Special Event Permit:

  • City Planning Department
  • Building and Safety
  • Fire Department
  • Police Department
  • Possible health department review
  • Department of Public Works: for anything that will use sidewalks or right-of-ways
  • Department of Motor Vehicles: for auto sales events

Fees for Special Event Permits do not tend to be large. For example, in Los Angeles, the current cost to file a TSE permit application with LADBS is $137.80 per event. Compared to other permitting fees, this is relatively low.

About Permit Advisors

If you have a large upcoming event, such as a product launch or a fashion show, we suggest investing in a permit expediting solution like our own. Permit Advisors Inc. is a nation-wide permit, entitlement consulting, and expediting firm based out of Beverly Hills, CA with satellite offices throughout the US. We have handled numerous Special Events Permits and continue to be the leading permit expediting solution in the region. Contact us today for a consultation.

  • Special Event
  • Special Event Permit
  • Temporary Special Event
  • TSE
  • TSE Permit
Jul 27, 2018 By admin