Streets Department announces change to block party approval process

Applicants must first submit a pre-approval form to their local police district

Capt. Krista Dahl Campbell stands in front of the 26th Police District in Fishtown. The 26th Police District is one of four that service the River Wards. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

By Melissa Komar

Before you blow up that moon bounce or fill up that Dumpster pool — oh, wait, that amenity is illegal — for your epic block party summer bash, you’ll need to get your local police district to sign off on it first.

The Streets Department announced last week the order of the process to obtain a Street Events Permit through its Right of Way Unit had changed.

Effective Wednesday, Aug. 1, all applicants submitting a Street Events application must submit a Block Party Authorization Approval Form to their local police district prior to requesting a permit for their event from the Streets Department.

Once approval is granted by the police district, the Streets Department will require the approval form and events application be submitted simultaneously for processing of the application to begin.

Previously, applicants submitted the Street Events application and the Streets Department would process it and then send it to the Police Department for approval.

Residents were then notified through a letter from the Streets Department or police if their application had not been approved for a street event permit, according to Keisha McCarty-Skelton, communications director for the Streets Department.

Police approval was always part of the block party permitting process, the order in which it happens is the only thing that has changed, she added.

“The change improves the integrity of the program because residents know in advance before they pay for the permit and ancillary items such as food, music, bouncy house and other party-related activities,” McCarty-Skelton said. “Residents became upset when their permit was denied or revoked after they’ve paid for all these items and then find out the block was not approved to be closed to traffic. Often, the items are non-refundable, and applicants are left to recover costs.”

So, although it’s an extra step for the applicants, it’s a potential safeguard on their pockets.

Residents will want to take into consideration processing time with the added step because it’s not a same-day service transaction for the pre-approval form.

“Once the pre-approval form is dropped off at the local police district, it can be picked up at a later date to be determined by the local Police District,” McCarty-Skelton said.

The process to obtain a permit for a block party can range from two days to two weeks, depending if all required paperwork, signatures and fees are submitted.

The fee for the application for a block party permit has not changed: It’s $25 if the application is received within 21 calendar days of the event; $60 if less than 21 calendar days prior to the event; and $150 for events such as weddings and birthday celebrations.

Block Party Authorization Approval forms can be obtained online at philadelphiastreets.com.

Police Districts encompassing the River Wards include the 15th Police District, Harbison Avenue and Levick Street; the 24th Police District, 3901 Whitaker Ave.; the 25th Police District, 3901 Whitaker Ave.; and the 26th Police District, E. Girard and Montgomery avenues. Block party applicants should visit phillypolice.com/districts to determine the corresponding Police District for the block desired to be closed.