Planning a Special Event

Eschlon Aerial ViewFrom nonprofit galas and civic celebrations to funky festivals and family gatherings, the Sonoma Plaza and Depot Park create an unforgettable backdrop for the memories of a lifetime.

See the events calendar for a list of currently approved events as well as a list of annual events that have a date preference but are not yet shown in the confirmed event calendar.

The Sonoma Plaza and Depot Park are available for rental seven days a week, with special restrictions during certain periods of time. Both parks are divided into rentable sections and depending on your needs can accommodate events ranging from 30 people to several thousand.  Each section has its own unique appeal and use.  Most of the City's other parks are available on a first come-first serve basis unless the park has been reserved in advance for a special event. For park usage restrictions and details on planning an event please contact Lisa Janson.  The Facilities for Rent or Reservation listings provide information on other local event venues.

The purpose of the Special Events policy is to set rules and processes that will guide City Staff and the Community Services and Environment Commission in seeking an appropriate balance between the benefits of organized events and their associated impacts on the community.

The Use Application for large scale events must be submitted at least 120 days in advance and no more than one (1) year in advance of event date. For small scale events, those events taking less than 8 hours from set-up to tear-down the application needs to be submitted twenty-one (21) days prior to the use date. Please be sure to view the Special Events Calendar to ensure the space is available the day and time you are requesting.

The Special Events Manager will follow-up once the application is received, fees will be calculated and a check payable to the City of Sonoma will be requested. Once the completed application and fees are received the review process begins. If you submit an application but do not submit an application fee, your application will not be reviewed. Please fill out the application form according to your event location.

Questions Asked on the Application

In order to make the application process as easy as possible, please have the answers to the following questions. These questions will be asked on the application:

  • Are you, the applicant, producing this event on behalf of another organization?
  • Do you work for a non-profit organization?
  • What type of event are you organizing?
  • What is the anticipated number of attendees?
  • Will there be amplified sound?
  • Are you requesting permission to serve food or beverages?
  • Are you requesting to sell food or beverages?
  • Will the event be more than one day?
  • Will you be requiring the use of tents?
  • Are you requesting to serve or sell alcoholic beverages?
  • Are you requesting to display or sell merchandise?
  • Will you have booths or tables at your event?
  • Will your event have any banners, parked cars, or other promotional elements/features?
  • Will your event have portable toilets?
  • What are your details regarding setup and take down?

The Application Process

The application will be reviewed after completing the use application and paying the application fee. Please note that completing the application and paying the fee does not guarantee approval of your event. Each Use Application requires the following additional documentation:

  • Site Plan
  • Event Narrative
  • Security Plan
  • Proposed Budget
  • Event Time Line
  • Waste Minimization Form 

For all small scale events the Special Events Manager has the ability to approve the Applications administratively. This process sometimes requires a meeting with the Special Events Committee (SEC) prior to approval.  The overall process can take 2-4 weeks depending on the event requirements.

Large scale events go through a three step review process.  The first one is an administrative review by the Special Events Manager who’s job is to conclude that the applicant has submitted all of the proper paper work and fees are paid. The second review is a face-to-face meeting with the SEC, during this meeting the event organizer is asked specific questions pertaining to the event, the SEC will determine a list of conditions for approval. Each event organizer is required to go to a formal Community Service and Environment Commission (CSEC) meeting, the commissions job is to review the application to ensure that it is following and adhering to the City's Special Event Policy.

*SEC is comprised of the following members; Special Events Manager, Street Supervisor, Parks Supervisor, Police Sergaent and the Fire Marshal.

** CSEC is comprised of appointed members of the community by the City Council.

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