Top Five Things to Know About Philly Permits in 2019

Top Five Things to Know About Philly Permits in 2019

Happy New Year!  Permit Philly hopes everyone has recovered from the Mummer apocalypse and a month of eggnog.  Since we have a brand-new year on our hands, I thought it would be a good idea to review what’s changed in Philadelphia permits over the last year, and explain how the changes affect you.  So here are the top five things to know about Philly permits in 2019.

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EZ Sign Permit

The Reach Lofts sign in Fishtown — an example of a sign that could be permitted by an EZ Sign Permit.

The City of Philadelphia can be a cruel mistress.  When filing permits, it’s common to be told that the thing you’ve done 176 times needs to be laid out a different way the 177th time – but then, on the 178th time, to go back to the regular way.  Sometimes, the way the application process works depends on which staffer is on lunch.  This is life on the mean streets of 1401 JFK Boulevard.

But every now and again, the City smiles upon us all, and cuts away some of its own red tape.  It has recently cut some tape around its troubled sign permits by creating what we in the permit game have previously only dreamt of: EZ sign permits.

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Philadelphia EZ Permits

Philadelphia EZ Permits can be used to renovate single-family homes like these

NOTE: Since this post was originally published, Licenses and Inspections has updated the requirements for the Philadelphia EZ Permit.  Now, owners of single-family homes applying for EZ permits for work on those homes need to provide a photo ID with the address of the home printed on the ID.

The City of Philadelphia offers a type of building, electrical, and plumbing permit called an EZ Permit.  This is because it’s easier to get than a normal permit (don’t look at me like that – I’m not in charge of naming this stuff).  Philadelphia EZ Permits are the source of a lot of hope and a lot of confusion for homeowners and developers.  In this post, we’re going to try to clear some of the mud off the Philadelphia EZ Permit.

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Philadelphia Building Permit Checklist

This development could have used a Philadelphia building permit checklist

The most common question I get here at Permit Philly is, “What permits do I need to build this?”  As documented in our blog, Philadelphia has a dense administrative system that might require you to get a lot of permits.  “It depends on the project,” is the answer I usually give.  But people don’t just want to know the specific permit they need: they want a conceptual picture of the permitting system.  A Philadelphia building permit checklist.

And wouldn’t you know it: there is a Philadelphia building permit checklist, made by the City itself.  You can find it right here.

But before you dive into it, let’s give you a companion piece: an overhead view of the permitting maze in Philly.

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Parking! Parking! Parking!

A parking meter in Queen Village, demonstrating parking rules in Philadelphia | Permit Philly

 

Let’s talk about parking rules in Philadelphia.  You have to abide by them, even though you may not know what they are, and every living human in the city has a very angry opinion about them.  Many RCOs rage against developments without parking.  Residents want their curbside parking secured – keep the new people away from my spot! is the cry from people who moved to Northern Liberties only six years ago.  As more people move to Philly, the tide of grumbling increases.  Everyone is angry about parking.

And this anger reaches City Council pretty quickly.  Right now, the Council is debating a new bill to require stricter parking rules in Philadelphia.  Specifically, the bill would require more parking spaces to be constructed with each new development in the City.  You might have seen some of Plan Philly’s outstanding reporting on this – take a look at this interview and this article for a good introduction.

Since the future of parking rules in Philadelphia are in some uncertainty, I want to quickly review the overall zoning rules for parking spots in the city, and talk about the ways in which the new bill might change them.

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Zoning Guide: Philadelphia Sign Permits

The sign for Famous Fourth Deli in Philadelphia: an example of a building with a philadelphia sign permit

Zoning Guide to the Philadelphia Sign Permit

Welcome back to Permit Philly’s Philadelphia zoning guide!  In this series, we’ve covered commercial zoning in Philadelphia, single-family residential zoning, multi-family residential zoning, and that sweet sweet hipster zoning.  Now we’re going to talk about the Philadelphia sign permit.  Warning: this story features graphic descriptions of bureaucracy.

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Philadelphia Zoning Guide: Multifamily Zoning

Philadelphia Multifamily Zoning - RM-1 - Zoning Guide

Welcome to Permit Philly’s Philadelphia Multifamily Zoning Guide!

If you’d like to see the other parts of this series, click here.

Oh my god we’re back again.  We’ve covered Commercial MiXed-use (CMX) and Residential Single-family Attached (RSA) zoning in our Philadelphia zoning guide.  Now it’s time to tackle Philadelphia multifamily zoning.

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Philadelphia Zoning Guide: RSA Zoning

Welcome to Permit Philly’s RSA Zoning Guide!

If you’d like to see the other parts of this series, click here.

Hello again!  After last week’s discussion of commercial zoning in Philly, it’s time for some lighter reading in our Philadelphia zoning guide: residential zoning!  Specifically: RSA zoning districts!

I can feel your excitement.

But this stuff is important, because most of Philly is zoned residential.  Most of the zoning or permitting cases I’ve worked on involve a homeowner asking, “Can I do                with my house?”

You are more than welcome to contact Permit Philly to ask that or any other question.  But in the meantime, here are some answers to your essential concerns about residential zoning – specifically, Philly’s RSA zoning classification.

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Philadelphia Zoning Guide: CMX Building Overview

Philadelphia Zoing Guide

Welcome to Permit Philly’s Philadelphia Zoning Guide!

I was recently at a neighborhood meeting where a member of the group casually observed that the Philadelphia Code allows for an 8.5-foot-wide garage, but should really allow only a 9.5-foot-wide garage.  If you are this person, you might not need this blog post.  But for most of us in Philly – and especially for developers and ambitious homeowners – It’s useful to go over the uses and general Philadelphia zoning rules about buildings to get a sense of what the City does and doesn’t want.  So here’s our Philadelphia zoning guide series.

First, we’ll handle the commercial buildings that also allow residential use:  Commercial MiXed-use, or CMX.

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