Filming in Sonoma County

Jurisdiction by a Prescriptive Right-of-Way

Many of the county roads on which you will be filming are under Sonoma County jurisdiction by a prescriptive right-of-way and not by a deeded right-of-way. This means that historical usage by the public and maintenance by the County allows the public the right to travel on these roads.

Film crews that plan to encroach in that right-of-way will need a Special Event Encroachment Permit.

The limits of the prescriptive right-of-way are as follows:

  1. From the center-line of the traveled way: out (perpendicular) to an existing fence which runs parallel to the centerline of the road
  2. In the absence of a fence: from the center-line of the traveled way, out (perpendicular) to the back side of an existing roadside ditch
  3. In the absence of a fence or a ditch: from the center-line of traveled way, out (perpendicular) to a point three feet beyond the edge of pavement.

Filming on Private Property

If you go beyond above limits, you will be on Private Property.

You will be subject to trespass laws if permission from the private property owner has not been obtained. do not  go beyond these limits without permission of the private property owner.

    Further Conditions

    Further conditions are as follows:

    1. Intermittent traffic breaks (not to exceed 10 minutes) shall be approved and provided by California Highway Patrol Officers.
    2. The Permit Inspector or the California Highway Patrol has the authority to stop any or all activity that is not being performed in strict compliance with the provision of this permit.
    3. Traffic shall not be detoured from the County Highways without the written approval of the permitting agency.
    4. All of the permittee’s production vehicles and equipment shall be legally parked off the traveled way, so that the equipment and personnel do not interfere with the free flow of traffic and/or pedestrians.
    5. Any filming involving the use of any type aircraft shall be done in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.
    6. All cable and step extensions, which cross the sidewalk, shall be shielded or coned for pedestrian traffic.
    7. No lights shall be erected on the traveled way.
    8. The location of cameras within the right-of-way shall be approved by the permitting agency or the California Highway Patrol.
    9. Special Event permits shall be obtained from Permit Sonoma prior to engaging in the following activities, operations, practices, or functions:
      UseDescription of UseRequired Permits
      Production facilitiesTo change use or occupancy, or allow the attendance of a live audience, or for wrap parties.zoning permit and fire permit
      Pyrotechnics and special effectsTo use pyrotechnic special effects, open flame, use of flammable or combustible liquids and gases, welding, and the parking of motor vehicles in any building or location used for the purpose of motion picture, television and commercial permit
      Live audiencesTo install seating arrangements for live audiences in approved production facilities, production studios, and sound stages.zoning permit and fire permit

    Need Assistance with Filming in Sonoma County?

    The Sonoma County Film Office provides assistance and support for film crews seeking to film in the County. The objective is to make it easier for you to get your job done.

    Contact Information

    Phone Operator
    Permit Center & Mailing Address
    2550 Ventura Avenue
    Santa Rosa, CA 95403
    38.465074, -122.723705

    What's My Zoning?

    Parcel Search

    Zoning and Land Use Map fragment

    Find your property's zoning and land use by address or parcel number.

    Special Permits