Park City’s Sundance rules can resemble a Hollywood mystery |

Park City’s Sundance rules can resemble a Hollywood mystery

City Hall publishes a detailed rundown of permitting, flowcharts

A crew puts up a temporary tent at the Town Lift Plaza in the days before the opening of the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. City Hall tightly regulates temporary setups during the festival and has published a Rules of the Road packet meant to assist someone as they advance through the approval process.
Park Record file photo

Navigating the City Hall approval process for temporary setups and other activities during the Sundance Film Festival can be like a Hollywood whodunit.

Park City officials want to offer assistance to help crack the case.

City Hall has published its annual “Rules of the Road” packet, a rundown of regulations and processes that is especially designed for corporate interests that want to operate inside Park City during Sundance. Park City has long been seen as a heavily regulated community, and the rules cover a broad list of activities that occur in the city during Sundance.

Although the corporate interests and their representatives are the target audience for the “Rules of the Road,” the packet offers rank-and-file Parkites an intriguing glimpse at the mechanics of the approval process, essentially the winding path that must be followed before a temporary setup is allowed by City Hall.

“The permitting process for somebody coming in from out of town can be difficult to understand,” Jason Glidden, the economic development program manager for City Hall, acknowledged.

Glidden has been designated as the municipal government’s first point of contact for issues related to the City Hall processes and was heavily involved in drafting the “Rules of the Road.” The processes involve staffers from a range of municipal departments. Glidden said the Building Department, the Planning Department and the Finance Department are critically important as applications are considered during the festival. Parking services also has a key role, he said.

Officials process numerous permits in the period before the festival, and the “Rules of the Road” is meant to ensure the processes are understood. The publication includes a calendar with deadlines as well as a series of flowcharts showing the steps that must be taken.

Some of the deadlines are based on the meeting schedule of the Park City Council while other deadlines rely on public-noticing requirements. One of the important dates on the “Rules of the Road” calendar was Jan. 4, which was a deadline for applications for some of the notable permits typically sought for Sundance by firms intending to open spaces at the start of the festival. The Jan. 4 deadline allowed for public noticing through Jan. 18 and then installation of the setups on Jan. 19, the day the festival opens. Someone may still file applications, but they would be unable to open on the first day.

There are also deadlines related to permits known as convention sales licenses. They allow a firm to operate in Park City temporarily, perhaps via a gifting suite. The licenses are also needed to obtain a liquor license for firms that are not official Sundance sponsors.

Glidden said it appears the permit numbers during Sundance in 2017 will resemble past years. The figures at midweek slightly trailed those in 2016, but Glidden said there was a run of permit applications after New Year’s. The City Council on Thursday approved another list of convention sales licenses and temporary alcoholic beverage licenses. Some of the notable ones included Porsche, American Express and Apple.

“I think that Main Street’s going to be busy. I think it’s going to be normal,” he said, explaining that deals for temporary setups sometimes are not finalized until shortly before the festival.

The “Rules of the Road” packet’s flowcharts, meanwhile, provide a look at the processes. There are 10 flowcharts included in the packet explaining how someone obtains approval for business licenses, convention sales licenses, special use parking permits, building permits and other common festival week-related permits or licenses.

The flowchart for a business license, as an example, details steps like a pre-application discussion with City Hall, review by municipal departments and a final inspection. The flowchart also notes that residences rented during Sundance cannot be made into a corporate setups meant for marketing.

Mike Sweeney, a longtime businessman in Park City who helps negotiate temporary corporate locations during Sundance, said he sends the “Rules of the Road” to clients as a way to inform them of the processes. He is involved with upward of 15 temporary locations on Main Street or elsewhere as the festival approaches. Sweeney praised City Hall staffers for assisting through the permitting.

“There are so many rules. It’s not a simple process. It would be a lot easier if they had less rules, but they don’t,” Sweeney said, adding, “You have to be on your ‘A’ game to get through the process. You can’t slack off.”

The “Rules of the Road” is part of the municipal government’s public-relations efforts as Park City prepares for Sundance, the top film festival in the U.S. and one of the most important on the international circuit. Sundance, which opens on Jan. 19, typically brings more than 40,000 people to Park City for screenings, receptions and celebrity watching.

The temporary setups that fall under the City Hall regulations usually are most prominent during the packed opening weekend of Sundance. Numerous corporate interests rent space temporarily along Main Street, turning the storefronts or restaurants into gifting suites, lounges and party spots.

The “Rules of the Road” is available on the front page of City Hall’s website, The direct link is:

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