Public Assembly Policy

As a general rule, the Town does not issue a permit for picket lines or other forms of public assembly unless the number of participants is expected to be 250 or more at any one time.

  • If more than 250 people are expected to attend the event then they must apply for a special event permit.

What is Considered Public Assembly?

For the purposes of this Town Public Assembly Policy, the following definitions will apply:

  • Public assembly means any demonstration, picket line, rally or gathering of persons for a common purpose as a result of prior planning that may interfere with the normal flow or regulation of pedestrian or bicycle traffic on the sidewalks and pathways or with vehicular traffic on the streets or roads.
  • Pathway or Sidewalk is any portion of a street between the curb-line and the adjacent property line, intended for the use of pedestrians and bicycles.
  • Street shall be construed to embrace streets, avenues, boulevards, courts, roads, alleys, lanes, viaducts and all other public highways in the town.

Public Assembly Requirements

Permission is required to use Town property or public streets for Public Assembly.

No person may engage in or conduct any public assembly on town owned property or upon publicly owned streets unless prior written permission is received from the Town Manager, or his designee.

Written request is required to use Town property and streets.

  • A person seeking permission to organize a public assembly on Town owned property, pathway, sidewalk, or street shall submit a request to the Town Manager.
    • The request must be signed by the applicant/organizer and must designate a responsible party.
    • If the request is to conduct a public assembly on a street right of way owned by the State or the County, the request must be submitted to the appropriate agency.
  • A request to use Town owned property, pathways, sidewalks, or streets should be submitted to the Town Manager at least ten days before the public assembly is proposed to commence.
    • The Town Manager may waive the minimum ten day filing period and accept a request submitted within a shorter period if, after due consideration of the date, time, place, and nature of the public assembly, the anticipated number of participants, and the Town services required in connection with the event, the Town Manager determines that the waiver will not present a hazard to public safety.
  • The request to conduct a public assembly shall set forth the following information:
    • The name, address and telephone number of the person seeking to organize the public assembly;
    • The requested date, start and end time, and location of the public assembly;
    • The approximate number of persons expected to participate in the public assembly;
    • The type of public assembly, including a description of activities planned during the event;
    • A description of any recording equipment, sound amplification equipment, and a physical description of banners, signs, or other attention-getting devices to be used in connection with the parade or public assembly, and the maximum decibel level of any such sound amplification equipment;

Standards for Approval

The Town Manager shall approve a request when he finds that:

  • The conduct of the public assembly will not require the diversion of so great a number of law enforcement, as determined by law enforcement, to properly police the public assembly and the areas contiguous to the event so as to prevent normal police protection of the Town;
  • If the public assembly is to occur on a street or pathway, that it is scheduled to move from its point of origin to its point of termination expeditiously and without unreasonable delays en route;
  • There are sufficient parking places near the site of the public assembly to accommodate the number of vehicles reasonably expected;
  • There has not been an approval already granted or there is not a request that has been received and will be granted for the same time and location; and
  • No public assembly for the same time but different location is already granted or has been received and will be granted, and the law enforcement resources required for that prior public assembly are so great that in combination with the subsequent proposed application, the resulting deployment of law enforcement resources would have an immediate and adverse effect upon the welfare and safety of persons and property.


The Town Manager shall not discriminate in granting or denying approvals under this policy based upon political, religious, ethnic, race, disability, sexual orientation or gender related grounds.

Contents of Approval

Each public assembly approval shall state the following information:

  • Approved date, location, and starting and approximate ending time;
  • Such other information as the Town Manager shall find necessary to the enforcement of this policy.

Duties of Responsible Party

The responsible person and all participants shall comply with all directions and conditions included in the approval letter and with all applicable laws and ordinances.

Alternative Permit

The Town Manager, in denying a request for a public assembly, may authorize the conduct of the public assembly at a date, time, location, or route different from that named by the requesting party. An applicant desiring to accept an alternate approval shall file a written notice of acceptance with the Town Manager.

Revocation of Approval

The Town Manager, or law enforcement, shall have the authority to revoke the approval for public assembly instantly upon violation of the conditions for issuance as set forth in this policy or when a public emergency arises where the law enforcement resources required for that emergency are so great that deployment of law enforcement services for the public assembly would have an immediate and adverse effect upon the welfare and safety of persons or property.


Peaceful picketing in the furtherance of a lawful purpose shall be allowed in the Town without a permit being required, provided the picketing is done under the following conditions:

  • Picketing may be conducted only on private property or upon the sidewalks, pathways, or other Town-owned areas or public right-of-way normally used or reserved for pedestrian movement, and may not be conducted on the portion of a street used primarily for vehicular traffic.
  • Picketers may carry written or printed placards or signs, provided the placards, staffs or poles to which they are attached do not interfere with the free use of the sidewalk or pathway by other pedestrians or bicyclists.
  • Picketers must not block the sidewalk, pathway, any driveway entrance, or the line of sight at street intersections.
  • If Picketers promoting different objectives desire to use the same sidewalk or pathway in a certain location for picketing, the Town Manager shall allot time to each group of picketers for the use of such sidewalk or pathway on an equitable basis.
    • Each group shall be permitted to picket subject to the provisions of this section in alternating time periods.

Contact Info

  • Staff Attorney
  • 1 Town Center Court
    Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
  • 843-341-4634