Chapter 5.84


5.84.010    Title.

5.84.020    Definitions.

5.84.030    Permits and exemptions.

5.84.040    Rules and regulations.

5.84.050    Applications and permit issuance.

5.84.060    Liability provisions.

5.84.070    Appeals.

5.84.080    Permit revocation.

5.84.090    Violation.

5.84.010 Title.

The ordinance codified in this chapter shall be known as the film ordinance of the city of San Luis Obispo. (Ord. 1448 § 1 (part), 2004)

5.84.020 Definitions.

A. “Applicant” shall mean the person, firm, association, joint venture, joint stock company, partnership, organization, club, company, corporation, business trust or manager, lessee, agent servant, officer or employee, or any of them except where the context clearly requires a different meaning, applying for a permit to film within the city limits of San Luis Obispo.

B. “City administrative officer (CAO)” shall mean the chief administrative officer of the city of San Luis Obispo or designated representative

C. “City services charges” shall mean the actual costs which city departments incur in connection with commercial activities for which a permit is required under these regulations, not limited to administration or coordination of services, support personnel, equipment, materials and supplies, related fringe benefits, loss of revenue, etc.

D. “Commercial” shall mean any activity intended to generate financial gain, in whole or in part, for the applicants or to advertise products, goods or services

E. “Destination marketing organizations” shall mean filming or videotaping or still photography produced or coordinated by an organization that qualifies under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code as a mutual benefit organization for the purpose of tourism and travel promotion.

F. “Motion picture, television, still photography” shall mean all activity attendant to staging or shooting commercial motion pictures, television shows or programs, and commercial advertisements or other media displaying images for commercial purposes.

G. “Nonprofit films” shall mean any commercial, motion picture, television, videotape, or still photography produced by a nonprofit organization, which qualifies under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code as a charitable organization. No person, directly or indirectly, shall receive a profit from the marketing and production of the film or from showing the films, tapes or photos.

H. “News media” shall mean any news organization that photographs, films or videotapes for the purpose of spontaneous, unplanned television news broadcast or reporting for print media by reporters, photographers or cameramen.

I. “Private video” shall mean any filming or videotaping taken solely for personal use.

J. “Public right-of-way” shall mean any public access that is open to vehicular, bicycle or pedestrian traffic.

K. “Special event coordinator” shall mean a member of city’s staff who serves as the point of contact for all filming activities within the city of San Luis Obispo.

L. “Studio” shall mean a fixed place of business where filming activities (motion or still photography) are regularly conducted upon the premises. (Ord. 1448 § 1 (part), 2004)

5.84.030 Permits and exemptions.

No person shall use any city street, alley, sidewalk, park, right-of-way or other public property owned or controlled by the city for the purpose of taking commercial motion pictures, television shows or programs, and commercial still photography without first applying for and receiving a permit from the city administrative officer or designee.


A. News Media. The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to or affect reporters, photographers or cameramen in the employ of a newspaper, news service, or similar entity engaged in on-the-spot print media, publishing or broadcasting of news events concerning those persons, scenes or occurrences which are in the news and of general public interest.

B. Private Video. The filming or videotaping of motion pictures solely for personal use.

C. Studio Filming. Filming activities (motion or still photography) conducted at a studio. (Ord. 1448 § 1 (part), 2004)

5.84.040 Rules and regulations.

The city council will establish by resolution conditions for the issuance of such permits and rules and regulations for activities conducted pursuant to such permits. The city administrative officer is authorized to make minor administrative changes in such rules and regulations as long as they are intended to carry-out the purpose of this chapter and will not have any significant policy impacts. (Ord. 1448 § 1 (part), 2004)

5.84.050 Applications and permit issuance.

A. Issuing Authority. The issuing authority shall be the city administrative officer or designee.

B. Applications. The following information shall be included in the application:

1. The name of the owner, the address and telephone number of the location(s) at which the activity is to be conducted;

2. The specific location at such address or place;

3. The inclusive hours and dates such activity will transpire;

4. A general statement of the character or nature of the proposed filming activity;

5. The name, address and telephone number of the person or persons in charge of such filming activity;

6. The exact number of personnel to be involved;

7. Use of any animals or pyrotechnics; and

8. The exact amount/type of vehicles/equipment to be involved.

9. Use of public right-of-way.

C. Application Fee. An application fee, payable to the city of San Luis Obispo, is due with the completed application. A reduced fee will be made available for those organizations qualifying as nonprofit or destination marketing as defined in Section 5.84.020(E) and (F).

D. Reimbursement for Personnel. The production company shall reimburse the city for any personnel provided to the company (i.e., police, public works, fire, traffic, parks and recreation) for the purpose of assisting the production at the city’s current billable labor rate.

E. Other Fees. Other city fees to be charged to the applicant as deemed appropriate and as set by council resolution.

F. Denial of Permit. The city administrative officer may deny a permit if the applicant fails to provide adequate information on the application or if the timing of a filming request prevents the city from providing the necessary resources needed to facilitate the activity. (Ord. 1448 § 1 (part), 2004)

5.84.060 Liability provisions.

A. Liability Insurance. Before a permit is issued, a certificate of insurance will be required in an amount to be determined by the risk manager (minimum of one million dollars) naming the city of San Luis Obispo as an “additional insured” and a policy endorsement for protection against claims of third persons for personal injuries, wrongful deaths, and property damage. The city officers, agents, and employees shall be named as “additional insured.” The endorsement shall not be subject to cancellation or modification without thirty days written notice to the city. A copy of the certificate and endorsement will remain on file.

B. Worker’s Compensation Insurance. An applicant shall conform to all applicable federal and state requirements for worker’s compensation insurance for all persons operating under a permit.

C. Hold Harmless Agreement. An applicant shall execute a hold harmless agreement as provided by the city prior to the issuance of a permit under this chapter.

D. Faithful Performance Bond. To ensure cleanup and restoration of the site, an applicant may be required to post a refundable faithful performance bond (amount to be determined) at the time the application is submitted. Upon completion of filming and inspection of the site by the city, the bond may be returned to the applicant. (Ord. 1448 § 1 (part), 2004)

5.84.070 Appeals.

The applicant shall have the right to appeal a denial within one working day to the city administrative officer. Should the CAO uphold the denial, the applicant may appeal the decision to the city council in accordance with appeals procedure in Section 1.20.020 of the city’s municipal code. (Ord. 1448 § 1 (part), 2004)

5.84.080 Permit revocation.

The city may revoke a filming permit at any time if:

A. An emergency arises making it impossible to assign sufficient or appropriate personnel to the filming activity to protect public safety.

B. Information is obtained after the filming permit is issued from which it may be reasonably concluded that the permit should have been denied.

C. The applicant fails to meet the conditions required by the filming permit.

If the city revokes a filming permit, the applicant shall be informed in writing of the grounds for revocation. The applicant may appeal the decision to the city council within ten days unless the cause of the revocation is an emergency and there is insufficient time available to present or schedule an appeal. In such a case, the applicant shall schedule a personal meeting with the CAO, or in his/her absence, the Assistant CAO, to discuss the circumstances. (Ord. 1448 § 1 (part), 2004)

5.84.090 Violation.

If an applicant violates any provisions of this ordinance or a permit issued pursuant thereto, the city may revoke the permit. A violation of this chapter or the terms and conditions of a film permit issued pursuant to this chapter is a misdemeanor. (Ord. 1448 § 1 (part), 2004)