If you operate a restaurant in Philadelphia, you probably know what today is: Streetery Judgment Day in Philly. Starting January 9th, 2023, all the outdoor dining patios, tents, huts, and yurts that flowered in the pandemic must be licensed or weeded from the fabled streets of Philadelphia. While Licenses and Inspections had given restaurants a pretty long leash starting in 2020, they’ve teamed with the Streets Department to yank that chain tight, ruling certain zones illegal for street dining and instituting a fee and permit structure for continued outdoor restaurant extensions. Naturally, restaurateurs (and diners!) are confused about the new Philadelphia outdoor dining rules. But never fear! Permit Philly is here to break down these new curbside seating regulations.Continue reading “Philadelphia Outdoor Dining Rules”
The Philadelphia Excavation License
Excavation work in Philadelphia is about to get a lot more difficult. Of course the days are long gone when you could just stick a shovel in the ground and start building a house: the City requires plans, approval from the Water and Streets Departments, and a wheelbarrow of paperwork before it will permit new construction. But a whole other wheelbarrow will be required come January 1st, 2023, when Licenses and Inspections institutes the Philadelphia excavation license (and related excavation permit).
This means that – prepare yourself emotionally, contractors – every GC in Philadelphia needs to get a new Philadelphia excavation contractor license before they’re allowed to dig out any foundation anywhere in town, starting 2023.
You have questions. We have answers!Continue reading “The Philadelphia Excavation License”
The Philadelphia Airbnb License Guide
Note: this guide was written in April 2022. The information is current as of 2023, but some of the references to the “new” Airbnb license might surprise people who know the license has been around for a while.
For those who have been operating an Airbnb or Vrbo in Philly, the new Philadelphia Airbnb license effective April 1st might seem like a bad April Fools’ joke. Alas, City Council isn’t laughing: the city is instituting a new license for “limited lodging,” which means a Philly Airbnb license is now required to legally rent out your space on an app.
Airbnb licenses aren’t new: short-term rentals are often contentious in any city with a sizable tourism economy (be happy we’re not Barcelona!). Whether residents are complaining about noise and litter, city officials want to get some tax dollars, or old-timers are worried about tourists in their neighborhoods, it’s only a matter of time before a city of Philly’s size slaps a permit on Airbnb (or Vrbo) operations. Other towns have required an Airbnb license for years – it’s just new to us (or it was in April 2022).Continue reading “The Philadelphia Airbnb License Guide”
Top 5 Changes to the Philadelphia Permitting Process for 2021
Happy New Year from Permit Philly! We don’t want to shock you, but we have something terrible to report: 2020 was a bad year. I’m sorry you had to hear it from us. But bad years aren’t the same as unimportant years, and in 2020 there were a lot of important changes to the Philadelphia permit process that will affect development in 2021. Here are the most important: the top 5 changes to the Philadelphia permitting process for 2021.Continue reading “Top 5 Changes to the Philadelphia Permitting Process for 2021”
Outdoor Seating Permits for Restaurants During Coronavirus Restrictions
NOTE: This post was initially written in June 2020. This information is now mostly out of date — check out our later blog post from January 2023 for the latest changes to outdoor dining laws.
The biggest moments in life sear our memories: weddings, holidays, cross-country moves. In much the same way I’ll remember my first kiss, I’ll always mark June 11, 2020, as the first time Licenses and Inspections in made a permit easier to get. Because on that day, L&I announced that they will allow restaurants to apply for outdoor seating permits in Philadelphia – and review those applications in three days.Continue reading “Outdoor Seating Permits for Restaurants During Coronavirus Restrictions”
Coronavirus and Philly Permits III
Welcome to Year 48 of the pandemic afterscape! While we spend most of our time in the bunkers we used to call our homes, Licenses and Inspections is still churning out permits remotely. Here’s the latest update we have about Philly permits during the coronavirus shutdown.Continue reading “Coronavirus and Philly Permits III”
Coronavirus and Philadelphia Permits (Update)
Greetings from Permit Philly’s top secret quarantine lair! We are furiously washing our hands and really getting deep into Netflix’s recommended list of Intense Movies Featuring a Strong Female Lead. (It’s mostly Salt. Don’t judge.) We hope you and yours are safe, but also hope we can use some of this newly free time to let you know what’s happening to Philadelphia permits during the COVID-19 shutdown. [UPDATE: Construction is legal again as of May 1st; however, there are a lot of limitations on the sort of construction that can continue. Notably, only permits issued on or before March 20 allow construction for now. Review Philadelphia’s guide to restarting construction right here. You can also read the Governor’s order for reopening construction sites. Philly city offices are still closed, so read on for an explanation of how permits are being processed during the closure.]Continue reading “Coronavirus and Philadelphia Permits (Update)”
Philadelphia Permits and Coronavirus: The Basics
NOTE: This post was written on Tuesday, March 17th before Governor Tom Wolf shut down all construction in Pennsylvania on March 19th, and before construction was allowed to resume in May 2020. If you’re looking for the current state of the COVID-19 shutdown in Philly, as it relates to permits and construction, please see this article.
Hey Philly! Quite a week we’re having. On Friday, March 12th, the City’s permit center closed for the installation of a new software system. On Monday, March 16th, the City shut down all of its own non-essential functions and shuttered non-essential businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The permit center in the Municipal Services Building and the district offices are closed to the public till at least the 27th. Despite all this, remote work and construction are both exempted from this order, [UPDATE: this order was issued before the statewide shutdown of construction sites] so we can still process Philadelphia permits during coronavirus!Read more
Philadelphia Permits Go Online!
This was written shortly before L&I closed its permit center and review boards on March 16th, 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak. For an update on this situation and other permit regulations, please see our blog here.
If you’ve read this blog, you might have marveled at the complexity of Philadelphia permits. Maybe not the way that you might marvel at a sunrise, but definitely the way you gawk at a the 76 interchange with the Vine Street Expressway at rush hour: there’s a lot happening, very slowly, in a creaky system designed decades ago, and everyone involved is a little testy. And even though there’s always renovation, big problems in the system are never solved. In the Philly permit system, one of the glaring problems is that you can’t submit applications online. But that’s changing: finally, after literal years of delay and false starts (this really is like highway construction, now that I think about it), Philadelphia permits are going online.Continue reading “Philadelphia Permits Go Online!”
How Much Does a Philadelphia Permit Cost?
One of the weirdest parts of this job is that I can’t give a simple answer to one of the questions everyone asks: How much does a Philadelphia permit cost?
Now, it stands to reason that the City of Philadelphia would charge different fees for different permits – you wouldn’t want a plumbing permit in a rowhome to cost the same as the electrical permit for one of the Comcast towers. So you might think that there are different permit fees for each zoning classification: one for industrial warehouses, and another for residential projects.Continue reading “How Much Does a Philadelphia Permit Cost?”