Capitol Hill is the city’s first Arts & Cultural District, hosts a vibrant and colorful nightlife, is home to many unique small businesses, and is one of Seattle’s most densely populated residential neighborhoods.
Capitol Hill is also the epicenter for many major permitted events, from runs and walks, to marches and rallies, to Pride events, to the Capitol Hill Block Party. As these events grow in popularity, size, and attendance, they come with both positive and negative impacts to neighborhood businesses and residents.
The City of Seattle supports and regulates these major events through the Special Events Committee. The Seattle Special Events Committee is made up of many government agencies charged with viewing each event application in terms of impacts to transportation, health and safety, community outreach, and use of public spaces such as streets and parks to help mitigate issues and identify solutions. The Special Events committee hears from residents who enjoy attending and participating in these events, and also hears from businesses and neighbors impacted by these events. It is the Committee’s job to try to balance these concerns.
Capitol Hill Events Survey & Assessment Report
What began as an opportunity to study one event, Capitol Hill Block Party, evolved through community feedback to include a broader footprint and breadth of events that both impact and enhance the community that lives, works, and enjoys events on Capitol Hill. Through interviews, focus groups, and online surveys, the City sought to understand the significant cumulative impacts to the neighborhood. Events included in the study were the Capitol Hill Block Party, the multiple permitted Pride weekend events (five of which are gated and ticketed), races/runs, and the free speech marches and rallies beginning in Cal Anderson Park. The study took place from May through November 2019 and reached business, residents, and the broader community who enjoy/visit the neighborhood. This survey was overseen by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and was presented to the Special Events Committee as the Capitol Hill Survey & Assessment Report, on December 18, 2019.
The survey and assessment report was an initial touch point with community. Work on implementation of recommendations for 2020 and beyond will continue, as well as engagement with the business and residential community. While the Special Events Committee oversees event organizer communication with neighborhoods, this survey is one of the first times that the City has engaged community about special events in a specific neighborhood. This was the first step in an ongoing process as the City works on implementing solutions from community driven concerns and questions, we look forward to more ongoing engagement.
Special Events Committee Actions – Immediate Term
Based on The Capitol Hill Survey & Assessment Report recommendations, public comment, and historical feedback regarding major events on Capitol Hill, the Special Events Committee voted to implement several immediate requirements for 2020 Capitol Hill events:
- End times for events at 11 p.m. (Friday and Saturday) for off-hours outdoor amplified sound at permitted special events.
- A broader waste management footprint and security investment requirement for permitted special events.
- A broader and more detailed neighborhood notification and communication coordination process for permitted special events.
The Special Events Committee is scheduling follow ups with event organizers, Committee representatives, and neighborhood stakeholders to address these requirements for 2020 events.
Special Events Committee Actions – Long Term
In addition to immediate requirement, the Capitol Hill Survey & Assessment Report made recommendations on policy changes to the City’s approach to its support, regulation, and authorization of permitted special events. These include policy recommendations to:
- Consider establishing community association(s) to be event intermediaries with the neighborhood.
- Consider the City’s policy and practice of permitting activity on right-of-way (streets and sidewalks).
- More deeply investing in Cal Anderson Park as a venue for major events.
Next Steps and How to Get Involved
The Special Events Committee will use the report in building next steps for the City’s public engagement and dialog with Capitol Hill businesses and residences. The Special Event Committee is committed to ensuring engagement is embedded throughout this process and that the work will be done in partnership with community.
The Special Events Committee will review progress on addressing immediate term recommendations at the April 8, 2020 Special Events Committee Meeting(postponed from March 11 due to COVID mitigation). The Committee would like to hear from Capitol Hill businesses, residents, and event organizers at the meeting.
Please contact the Special Events Office at 206-733-9245 or firstname.lastname@example.org for information on opportunities to be involved with this process.