Philadelphia has new street regulations and a new application process

Philadelphia officials have released new permanent regulations for streeteries, replacing a temporary set of rules that governed outdoor street food areas earlier in the coronavirus pandemic.

Known as the outdoor dining program, the effort builds on a set of rules released in March that angered many restaurateurs, who said they could potentially empty the outdoor dining scene. air of the city as it rebuilt after the pandemic. The permanent rules take into account feedback from local business owners, residents and city council members, the city said in a statement.

From next month, restaurants can start applying for street licenses, which are for restaurants that prepare food for customers to eat on-site outside. According a guide to city licensingthe regulations exclude establishments such as beer distributors, bottle and take-out restaurants, delicatessens and convenience stores.

To obtain a license, owners must have owner consent and $1 million in general liability insurance, among other requirements. A $200 application fee will go towards the cost of the first annual license of $1,750, the city said.

The city now codifies three types of streeteries. Causeway and platform streets, which are not enclosed, do not require building permits or approval by the Philadelphia Art Commission, which was a prerequisite. The third type, a structure street, is gated and requires a building permit and approval from the Art Commission to build. Guardrails are required for all types.

Streeteries cannot use propane or open flames for heating and cannot run extension cords from the main building for power. Electricity, the city says in an online guide, should come from “batteries or another portable power source.”

The lawful contentious street zones, which allow streets throughout Downtown and West Philadelphia, as well as several commercial strips in other neighborhoods, remain. According to an Inquirer analysis from December, 62 of 281 restaurants outside street areas missed the threshold by 500 feet or less.

Restaurants located outside the zones need a special order and should contact their local council member to begin the process of obtaining an order. Alternatively, restaurants may be able to apply for a sidewalk café license which allows them to have seats on the sidewalk outside the building, rather than in a parking area on the street.

Current temporary sidewalk cafe licenses issued under the city’s emergency outdoor dining plan are set to expire Dec. 31. In a statement, the city urged restaurants to “explore whether they are eligible to apply” for a regular sidewalk cafe license.

The new regulations take effect immediately, but restaurateurs have a grace period to comply, submit claims and remove non-compliant structures. Many streeteries built during the pandemic “do not comply with ongoing regulations and require substantial overhaul or removal altogether,” the city says online.

“To ensure public safety, the street program is limited and we urge restaurants to thoroughly explore acceptable outdoor dining options before making any investments,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.