What to do
1. See if you need a permit
You must have this permit to hold an outdoor event with entertainment or amplified sound on:
- a city street
- a city sidewalk
- private property, like a business's patio or parking lot.
Here are examples of activities that require this permit:
- Live music like a band or DJ
- Theater, comedy or dance performance
- Fashion show
- Amplified speech
- Amplified sound without a performer, like pre-recorded music or sound on a patio
- Film/TV screening with amplified sound
This permit is not for the following:
- Activity on SF Recreation and Parks Department (Golden Gate Park or Dolores Park, for example), National Park Service or Presidio Trust property. Submit your request to them directly.
- Street performers or buskers. If you are a musician or performer, you may partner with a business to host your performance, but that business must be the one to apply for the One Time Outdoor Event permit.
- Activity on residential property.
- You don’t need this permit if you already have approval to host outdoor entertainment at a permitted Place of Entertainment (POE) or Limited Live Performance (LLP) premises.
2. Get permission from whoever owns or manages the property.
That could be a:
- temporary street closure permit from SFMTA/ISCOTT for an event in the street
- Shared Spaces permit for a parklet
- Cafe Tables and Chairs permit from SF Public Works
- temporary occupancy permit from SF Public Works for occupying the sidewalk
- special event license from the Port of San Francisco or Treasure Island Development Authority
- A permission letter from the property owner/manager for using private property
If you are waiting to receive the City permit to use the property, you must email us copy of the approved permit at email@example.com once you receive it from the City agency. The Entertainment Commission cannot issue our permit until we have received a copy of the permit to use the property. Exception for Parklets: We don't need to receive a copy of an approved Shared Spaces permit.
3. Know what entertainment and amplified sound you will have, with the exact location and times.
For example, if you want a stage at a street fair, you will need to tell us where on the street you will have the stage. We also want to know what time the band will do a sound check and what time they will play.
Rules for amplified sound
- You are allowed up to 6 hours per day, including soundcheck. See exceptions below. A request for amplified sound on multiple days of the week may not be approved or may be limited after permit issuance due to multiple considerations including density of existing permits, nearby sensitive receptors, and prior complaints.
- You can’t play outdoor sound equipment before 9 am or after 10 pm. See exceptions below.
- You will need to follow the approved sound limit.
Requesting an exception: In some cases for a temporary event, the Entertainment Commission may allow exceptions to the number of hours and times of day/night. A hearing may be required. In your application, explain why you wish to be granted an exception and how you are conducting meaningful neighborhood outreach to any affected residents and businesses.
4. Fill out the application
In the application, you will need to agree to rules and responsibilities. You will need to give detailed responses to the security plan questions; short, one-sentence answers will not be accepted.
It will take about 30 minutes. We will send you a confirmation email and information about what to do next.
5. Pay the permit fee
- If you have a band, DJ, or other live entertainment, you should select the "One Time Outdoor Entertainment Permit." The permit costs $539.
- If you have amplified sound with no live performer (like streaming music, speeches, TV or film screening), you should select the "One Time Outdoor Amplified Sound Permit." The permit is $521 for the first 4 hours of amplified sound. After the first 4 hours, you will pay $90 per hour for each additional hour of amplified sound.
For a business that qualifies for the City's First Year Free program, first email us to request a fee waiver at firstname.lastname@example.org and include your business name, address, and Business Account Number (BAN).
DISCLAIMER: The SF Entertainment Commission has the right to deny an application submitted less than 7 days before an event. Once we begin processing your application, we may not refund your fee.
- As the Event Organizer, you should consider and address the event’s potential impacts on the surrounding neighborhood. Not only amplified sound impacts, but also increased vehicle and foot traffic, access to residences and businesses, uncollected trash and debris, public intoxication, and more.
- The point of neighborhood outreach is to inform those who may be affected, listen to any concerns, identify any steps that can be taken to reduce potential impacts, and work with the neighborhood toward mutually beneficial outcomes. Don’t just inform them, engage them.
- You should do meaningful outreach in advance of your event to any residents, businesses, and community organizations affected by the event. At bare minimum, we advise delivering an outreach letter door-to-door at least a 1 block (250 foot) radius from the event premises.
Neighborhood stakeholders may include:
- The City’s Cultural Districts. Check if your event is in or next to a Cultural District.
- Neighborhood and Merchant Associations
Note: The Entertainment Commission may in its discretion require specific neighborhood outreach activities as a part of the permit approval.
If you qualify for the fee waiver, you may apply for the waiver by responding to the questions in the permit application.
Fee Waiver Eligibility:
You can apply for a fee waiver if your event received a grant from the City and County of San Francisco; OR
You can apply for a fee waiver if you (the organizer) get some kind of public assistance or if paying the fee would not leave you enough money to live on; OR
You can apply for a fee waiver if your event is ALL of the following:
- open to the public
- run by a non-profit or community group, and
- the permit fee is more than 25% of the total budget for the event
After hours sound
After hours sound
If you want to host outdoor amplified sound/entertainment before 9am or after 10pm, it may be possible. You may need to attend a public hearing with the Entertainment Commission. Get in touch with us early, as the process can take up to 45 days.
An event with more than 12 days
An event with more than 12 days
A One Time Outdoor Event Permit may be used for up to 12 days per calendar year at one location. You may request 13 or more days for one location at the Entertainment Commission’s discretion. You may need to attend a public hearing with the Entertainment Commission. Get in touch with us early, as the process can take up to 45 days.
The Entertainment Commission supports a thriving entertainment and nightlife culture that balances the needs of the City’s entertainment community, its audiences, and its neighbors across all district neighborhoods.
Last updated August 29, 2023