City of San Mateo Law Library
City of San Mateo Municipal Code.


(a) Non-Free Speech Events.

(1) For first time special events, the application must be filed at least 90 days prior to the date of the proposed event.

(2) For annual events for which a special event permit has previously issued, the application must be filed at least 45 days prior to the date of the proposed event.

(3) The Committee shall meet with the applicant or sponsor to review the application to determine whether additional information is required, discuss applicable conditions and potential fees, and determine whether or not the proposed event is considered a "high impact event" based upon the information contained in the application.

(4) If the proposed special event is a first time high impact event or when there is a substantial change to the scope and nature of a previously held event, the applicant will be required to mail a notice of intent describing the proposed special event to property owners located within 300 feet of a fixed event site or to properties immediately adjacent to a parade, or run/race route and solicit comments. Comments received from the neighborhood will be considered by the Committee prior to the issuance of a permit.

(5) The Committee shall make a decision on the application, set any conditions and fees, and issue the permit.

(6) In deciding whether to approve, or approve with conditions, the Committee shall make each of the following findings:

(i) The event, as proposed, can be shown to function safely;

(ii) The diversion of police and fire resources to support the event will not deny reasonable police and fire protection to the City;

(iii) The special event will not cause irreconcilable interference with previously approved and/or scheduled construction, maintenance or other activities;

(iv) The proposed event will not cause other adverse impacts on health or safety to surrounding residential or commercial uses, which cannot be effectively mitigated;

(v) The special event sponsor or applicant has provided a transportation management/parking plan for traffic control/parking management if required by the nature of the event; and

(vi) The location/route meets the criteria established in the procedures.

(vii) In deciding whether to approve an application, no consideration may be given to the message of the event, the content of speech, the identity or associational relationships of the applicant, or to any assumptions or predictions as to the amount of hostility which may be aroused in the public by the content of speech or message conveyed by the event.

(7) Conditions.

(i) The Committee may include in a special event permit, among other provisions, reasonable terms or conditions as to the time, place and manner of the event, notice requirements, compliance with health and sanitary regulations, emergency services, security payment of special event permit fee, reimbursement of direct expenses incurred by the City, and a clean-up/damage deposit.

(ii) Additional permits may be required to meet the conditions established by the permit, and/or other Federal, State, County or City codes.

(iii) In order to accommodate other concurrent events, the rights of abutting owners and the needs of the public to use streets or parks, the conditions may include, but not be limited to, reasonable adjustments in the date, time, route or location of the proposed event; accommodations of pedestrian or vehicular traffic using the street; and limitations on the duration of the event.

(8) Recurring Events. For recurring events, the Special Event Committee may require a trial period before approving all planned events. In no case shall recurrent events be authorized for more than one year.

(9) An application for a special event permit can be denied on any of the following grounds:

(i) Applicant's provision of false or misleading information;

(ii) Conflict with other planned events in the area;

(iii) Previous permit violations by the applicant or organization; or

(iv) Inability to make each of the findings for approval set forth above.

(b) Free Speech Events. The following procedures apply to a free speech event:

(1) Filing. The applicant shall file the application with the chairperson as soon as possible, but no later than seven working days before the event. An application may be filed up to five working days before the event, but an applicant filing fewer than seven working days before the event waives the right to appeal a decision. If an event is planned in response to a contemporaneous public event or decision which could not have been known in advance, the applicant may file an application 48 hours before the event. The review period is to ensure adequate time for review of the proposed arrangements by the affected City departments, establishing reasonable conditions, notification of the decision, and appeal from the decision.

(2) Chairperson's Decision. The chairperson shall approve the permit application, subject to conditions, or shall deny the permit in accordance with the findings set forth in subsection (a). The chairperson shall take action to approve or deny within 48 hours (not including days the City offices are closed) after receipt of a completed application. The chairperson shall notify the applicant in writing (and orally, if possible) of the decision, including a statement of the reasons for any conditions or the grounds for a denial. If a change in the time or location of the proposed event would allow approval of the application, the chairperson shall propose an alternative to the applicant.

(3) Applicant's Acceptance (or Appeal). The applicant shall notify the chairperson in writing of the applicant's acceptance within 24 hours (not including days the City offices are closed) after written notice of the decision. The failure to submit a timely acceptance or appeal is deemed an automatic withdrawal of the application. If the applicant files a valid written acceptance and complies with the general permit conditions, the permit issues upon the chairperson's receipt of the written acceptance. The chairperson shall notify the applicant, the City Council, the City Manager, and any affected department head that the permit has been issued consistent with the notification process identified in the special event procedures.

(4) Appeal. An applicant who has filed the initial application at least seven working days before the event may appeal the decision, including a denial, a condition of approval, a refusal to waive a filing deadline, or a decision regarding fees or insurance, by filing a written appeal on a form prescribed by the chairperson. The appeal procedures are set forth in this chapter.

(5) Judicial Review. If the City denies a free speech event permit, the City shall within two working days file an action in the superior court for a determination on the validity of the denial. At the time of filing, the City shall request that the court hear the matter as soon as possible and no later than two court days after the filing.