News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Dallas event promoters and property owners without permits may soon face stiff fines

A photograph picturing the Dallas City Hall building in the background and a tree in the foreground.
Keren Carrión
Dallas city officials are looking at new penalties for people who host events without permits.

Property owners and promoters who host events in Dallas without a permit could face stiff fines and could be held financially accountable for costs related to an emergency response from police or firefighters. That's if a proposed ordinance is passed.

This comes after a trail ride and concert in Southern Dallas where one man was killed, and 16 other people were injured at an unpermitted event in April.

A commercially promoted event includes music shows, concerts, theatrical or other performances. The ordinance states new rules for promoted events that would “provide protection for the public attending promoted events that do not receive permits or oversight through other city processes.”

City leaders at the city’s public safety committee meeting Monday said Dallashas seen an increased number of unpermitted events.

“This has led to a lack of crowd management and crowd control. We've had inadequate or no security or safety plans with these promoted events. There has been documented occurrences of violent crime disregard overall general disregard for public safety,” said Assistant Police Chief Michael Igo.

Igo said the ordinance would reduce “the unreasonable use of public safety resources.” The ordinance would protect the city from financial costs that might come from an emergency response to promoted events without permits.

The proposed ordinance would require:

  • Commercial promoter to register with the city as a commercial promoter and pay a fee. The fee cost has not been established.  
  • A general safety plan that details what the event is about. 
  • An estimation of how many people are expected to attend. 
  • Crowd management plan. 
  • Security and first aid details. 

DPD is considering a tiered approach for offenses. Property owners who do not follow the new rules could face a fine of $500 to $2,000. And they could alsoface a lawsuitby the city if they allow an event on their property that requires a permit and doesn’t have one.

Event promoters and property owners who violate the ordinance will be responsible for any costs resulting from an emergency response, DPD officials said.

"This is to protect the city from financial burdens resulting from an emergency response promoted events that violate the ordinance. This includes responses by police, fire, paramedics," Igo said.

Dallas police officials are still figuring out how they would enforce the ordinance.

Council Members Cara Mendelsohn and Tennell Atkins said they worried the ordinance would impact church gatherings or events hosted by non-profit organizations.

Mendelsohn called the language in the ordinance ambiguous and wanted more clarity.

Seven off-duty police officers had department approval to work the event last month, but they left before the shooting.

Since then, DPD has tightened the rules for off-duty police officers working security jobs. Officers must verify that an event has a permit. And they are required to notify the department at the beginning and end of their off-duty shift. Officers are not allowed to work at events without permits.

The public safety committee will host a special-called meeting May 17 at 9 a.m. at City Hall and DPD is inviting the public to weigh in on the proposed requirements.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.