How to Close a Street for Filming in Los Angeles

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how to close a street for filming

In the interest of public safety or to capture the perfect shot, some filming activities may require your production company to close public streets. Maybe you’re filming a period piece, and you don’t want a brand-new Tesla Cybertruck driving through your recreation of 1930s Los Angeles. Or maybe you’re filming a car crash scene where props, picture cars, and equipment will be present on the roadway for the duration of the shoot. There are many reasons why you might want or need to do a street or sidewalk closure, but how can you know exactly what will be required to do it legally, and how much it will cost? There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to street closures, so we always recommend reaching out to FilmLA’s Solution Services team to discuss the unique circumstances of your production needs.

The jurisdiction of your closure should be the first consideration. FilmLA serves 16 different cities and unincorporated LA County. All of them have a process for street closure review and approval, and they are all unique. Looking at two of the most popular filming jurisdictions (LA City and LA County), they each have different processes for how they handle closures, with different associated fees and personnel requirements.

In the City of Los Angeles, for example, there is a single closure fee assessed per location, while in LA County permit applicants are charged an application fee for issuance, an encroachment fee for processing, and a daily inspection fee for road use. The City of Los Angeles requires one LAPD officer per travel direction closed, and a minimum of two officers for full street closures. The Los Angeles County Public Works Roads Department requires either CHP officers or Sheriff’s deputies to close roads in Unincorporated LA County. Additionally, productions requesting closures will need to provide closure plans from a licensed barricade or traffic control company and closures must be implemented in accordance with guidelines found in the State-sanctioned WATCH (Work Area Traffic Control Handbook.) Some jurisdictions may need additional lead time for permit processing. Larger requests may require the approval of relevant Council Districts and/or other area stakeholders.

Because not all roads are the same, you should always check with FilmLA to discuss your proposed plans before you formally apply for a permit. Some roads will be rush hour restricted, which means that any requests for closures or other activities that impact traffic are automatically rejected during rush hour. Rush hour windows can even vary from street to street based on their individual traffic data, so a good rule of thumb is to avoid major streets during weekdays. Elsewhere in the region, some streets may have restrictions based on HOA rules, planned construction activity, or other reasons that aren’t immediately apparent, so it’s always worth checking.

One of our main goals at FilmLA is to empower productions to make their vision of their project a reality. Helping productions navigate the complexities of street closures in the City and County of Los Angeles (ranging from dense urban streets to remote County roads) is what we’re here for. While organizing a street closure may seem daunting at first with its additional fee and personnel requirements, they are relatively easy to obtain and can lead to more authentic and interesting scenes for your project. Our Solution Services team is available during business hours to answer questions regarding closures and any other Production Planning related activities.

Need Help Applying For A Permit?

Contact Our Solution Services Team
Email: info@filmla.com
Call: (213) 977-8600

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About the Author: Matt DeMotts

Matt DeMotts is a Production Planning Coordinator on FilmLA’s Solution Services team. He is a writer and performer from St. Cloud, Minnesota and a graduate of Denison University. When he’s not at the movies or writing screenplays, he enjoys cooking, hiking, and TTRPGs. His favorite films include Parasite, Punch Drunk Love, and No Country For Old Men.

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