Obtaining a permit varies depending on the type and complexity of your event.
- How many people do you estimate will be in attendance?
- Will there be music?
- Will there be a stage, tents, canopies, fencing, rides or other equipment?
Answers to each of these and many more questions determine what steps you will need to take before a permit may be issued; determining as many of the details in advance of your application will speed the processing time and may reduce the number of surprises.
In addition, Portland Parks & Recreation works in collaboration with other City, County and State bureaus and agencies to assure that the event is in compliance with their rules and guidelines. We do this by requiring the Applicant to secure sign offs or any needed permits from these other agencies or bureaus.
The following is a general outline to help you apply for a park Special Use Permit.
Please note: Before you contact any other city, county and state departments, bureaus and agencies, you must contact the Parks Customer Service Center to begin your application process.
Early application will better allow you to:
- Secure the park and location of your choice
- Complete all requirements without last minute deadlines
- Avoid paying late/rush fees
In order to avoid last minute concerns that may delay the processing of your application, please have as much detail as possible regarding all the activities you intend to offer. We understand that depending on how early you apply you may not know all the details. However, the sooner you can provide details (this may include a site plan and an estimate of what you think your attendance may be), the more likely it is that the application process will move quickly and efficiently.
There are very few permitted activities allowed in parks that do not require insurance. Expect that you will be required to secure $2,000,000 in liability coverage from a third party and an Additional Insured Endorsement that is acceptable to the City Attorney. These two requirements tend to take the most time so starting this process early is strongly advised. The Parks Customer Service Center will not issue a permit without required insurance coverage.
Provide a site plan
If you plan on bringing equipment, stages, booths, etc., into a park, you will likely be required to provide a site plan a minimum of 60 days prior to the move-in date. Applicants applying for CONTESTS AND TOURNAMENTS must provide a site plan including field or court layouts 60 days prior to the first date of games. Applicants applying for RACES/WALKS must provide a route map for each park area to be used. The Park Supervisor will review site and route plans prior to application approval.
Supply portable restrooms
Permanent restrooms located in a park are not included in the calculations determining the number of restrooms required for an event. Permanent restrooms are intended to meet the needs of the casual park user and not permitted events. PP&R requires event-holders supply one Portable Restroom for every estimated 125 persons in attendance. 10% of the total portable restrooms must be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) approved.
Amplified sound and/or music
When music and public address systems are used, a noise permit or sign off from the Noise Control office may be required. The time, duration, intensity and type of sound generated all effect whether or not a permit will be required. You may be required to meet specific conditions of use required by the Noise Control Officer. You can contact the Noise Control office at (503) 823-7350 to determine what, if anything, may be required. You can also download a noise application from the following link:
Please do not return the noise application to the Parks Customer Service Center. Parks will accept your receipt for payment to the Noise Control Office in lieu of a sign off, but the application must be turned in to the Noise Control Office.
Address ADA requirements
An ADA review may be required when a new event is proposed and accessibility concerns need to be addressed. This could be due to the type and quantity of structures proposed for a park or where the size and expected attendance pose a potential problem for compliance with ADA guidelines. The Parks Customer Service Center will provide you with the necessary contact information if necessary.
Remove all cooking water, grease, and cooking by-products (gray water) from the park
You will not be allowed to dispose of gray water in the park. You may not use storm or area drains for this purpose. You MUST remove all gray water from the park.
Fire Bureau sign-off
Enclosures such as tents or fenced areas may require a sign-off. The Fire Marshal will look for safe entrances and exits and adequate lanes of travel through crowded areas for participants as well as emergency services. Cooking or heating fuels will also be inspected for proper containment. You may need to contact the Fire Marshal and obtain a permit or sign-off that require you to meet specific conditions of use. See the Portland Fire & Rescue link below:
Selling items at your event
If you intend on selling food or other items at your event, the cost of your permit increases significantly. Selling of food or other items is considered commercial activity on public property and higher usage rates apply. Please refer to our Special Event - Special Use Guide for Major & Minor Parks REVISED 09-22-20 for current details.
If you intend on restricting access by requiring admission fees, the cost of your permit increases to our highest rate which is applied whenever the public is restricted from use of public property by an event. Please refer to our Special Event - Special Use Guide for Major & Minor Parks REVISED 09-22-20 for details.
Health Department permit
Any time food items are prepared (cooked) and/or served to the public on park property, a sign-off and/or permit is required from the Multnomah County Environmental Health Services. (Cooking units may also require a permit from the Fire Bureau for propane usage.) The Parks Customer Service Center will provide you with the necessary contact information if necessary.
Neighborhood Association approval/notification
The Parks Customer Service Center notifies the Neighborhood Association (NA) of your event. If you are not asking to operate outside of any established guidelines and procedures, an NA sign-off will not be required. Otherwise, you may be required to address the specific items directly with the NA and attempt to reduce the impact on the neighborhood through adjustments and/or accommodations. A list of NA contacts can be found at the Office of Community & Civic Life, (503) 823-4519, or online and choose the appropriate NA from the list provided.
Serving or selling alcohol
A permit and insurance are required whenever alcohol is provided in a park. Only beer and wine are allowed on park property, except by special permission from the Director of Parks or their designee. You may also be required to meet specific conditions of use required by the O.L.C.C. The Parks Customer Service Center will provide you with the necessary contact information if required.
Contact Portland Police
You should be prepared to meet with the appropriate jurisdiction to discuss your event. You will likely be required to adhere to specific conditions of use determined by that jurisdiction. The Customer Service Center can provide you with the appropriate contact information.
Portland Parks requires all public events to have a recycling plan in place. You will be required to secure a sign-off from Community Environmental Services. Please call 503-725-5147. The City's Event Recycling Services provides free recycling equipment and guidance for Portland events. This role is advisory only and does not include pick up services or staff for your event. Equipment is the property of the City's Event Recycling Program and must be returned after the event.
Dog Off-Leash Area usage
Portland Parks has a large number of well attended Dog Off-Leash Areas (DOLA).If you intend on placing activities adjacent to a DOLA be prepared to develop a mitigation plan to address dogs in and around your event.