Jun 10, 2024 - News

Some Philadelphia block parties derailed by summer safety issues

A column chart that displays the number of block party permits issued in Philadelphia from 2015 to 2023. The chart shows a steady decline from 5,818 permits in 2015 to 106 in 2020, likely due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, there's a rebound to 2,364 permits in 2022, and a slight decrease to 2,284 in 2023.
Data: The City of Philadelphia. Note: 2023 figures include block party applications denied for all reasons other than criminal activity; Chart: Axios Visuals

Philadelphia has rejected more than 50 block party applications so far this summer over public safety concerns.

Why it matters: Philly is a block party city but the neighborhood shindigs happen when violence typically spikes.

State of play: The city has denied 8% of the 677 block party applications submitted as of last week, city spokesperson Sharon Gallagher tells Axios.

  • Police denied 56 for concerns of potential "criminal activity" in the area; another 17 were rejected for other reasons, like incomplete paperwork.

Flashback: The city denied 230 of more than 2,500 applications received last year over criminal activity.

Between the lines: Each police district has a say on applications in their area, per city policy. The department will consider prior police activity on the street, and other safety factors.

  • "The totality of the current situation is always considered, and decisions are made based on the latest information available," Police Sgt. Eric Gripp tells Axios.
  • The Streets Department will also evaluate how the event could impact traffic and transportation, among other issues, before approving a permit.

The big picture: While block party permits have been on the rise in recent years, Philly is having significantly fewer block parties than in past decades.

  • Permits trended downward over the years, hitting a low of 106 in 2020 during the first year of the pandemic.

By the numbers: Block party permits in recent years, per the city:

  • 2018: 4,276
  • 2019: 3,506
  • 2020: 106
  • 2021: 1,830
  • 2022: 2,364
  • 2023: 2,284 (not including those denied for reasons other than criminal activity)

📝 How it works: Submit a digital or paper application for a block party with the city.

  • Cost: $25-$150
  • You'll need 75% of the households on your block or apartment complex.
  • You should submit your application at least 21 days before the party.

☝️ Block parties are supposed to end by 8:30pm.

  • Sorry, but "arterial" roads like Broad Street and Girard Avenue can't be closed for block parties.

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