Arlington County Board Adopts New Special Events Management Policy

  • Provides clear Special Event definitions
  • Exempts most small neighborhood events
  • Fee reductions within an adopted budget available to organizations that meet criteria

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Arlington County Board today adopted a new policy for managing special events and demonstrations in public spaces. The policy encourages such events while ensuring that the County recovers its support costs. The update formalizes practices that have developed since the previous policy was adopted in 2004.

“Special events help bring our community together – they celebrate Arlington's diversity and encourage neighbors to get out, mingle and enjoy our great public spaces,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes. “The number and size of these events have grown and will continue to grow. This new policy will help everyone involved – the organizers, the affected neighborhoods and County government – make sure that events are safe and secure, that all understand the rules, and that the costs of necessary County support services are accounted and paid for.”

The Board voted 5-0 to adopt the new policy.

The new policy makes several changes to the Special Events policy adopted by the Board in 2004. Key changes include:

  • Regularly occurring markets, such as farmers, arts and crafts, flea and others, will no longer be governed by the Special Events policy. They will be regulated through the County's special exception use permit process.
  • Small neighborhood events, including block parties and parades, that meet specific criterion, will not require a Special Event Permit.
  • The County will reduce fees charged to event sponsors for law-enforcement, fire and emergency services associated with their special events, if those organizations qualify and would otherwise not be able to afford to mount the special event. The reductions will be subject to annual appropriations by the County Board
  • The County Manager will review the number of events that are designed to attract a crowd of 500 or more people to any given area held each year, to ensure that no residential or commercial area of Arlington is unduly impact by special events.

Public process

Event organizers and County staff together developed the new policy. The public reviewed the recommendations during two community meetings and through an online survey.

To better support special events, Arlington has established a one-stop shop for event organizers to assist in coordinating with the various County resources, processes and billing aspects that go into administering a special event. For more information about holding a special event in Arlington call 703-228-1876, email or visit the County website and search special events.

To read the staff report, visit the County website. Scroll down on the Arlington County Board Regular Meeting November Agenda to Item #15.

Arlington Va., is a world-class residential, business and tourist location that was originally part of the “10 miles square” parcel of land surveyed in 1791 to be the Nation's Capital. Slightly smaller than 26 square miles, it is the geographically smallest self-governing county in the United States, and one of only a handful with the prized Aaa/AAA/AAA bond rating. Arlington maintains a rich variety of stable neighborhoods and quality schools, and has received numerous awards for Smart Growth and transit-oriented development. Home to some of the most influential organizations in the world — including the Pentagon — Arlington stands out as one of America's preeminent places to live, visit and do business.