City Council considering increased fees for permits and licenses

On Thursday Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez introduced a bill to retool the Department of Licenses & Inspections fee regimen. The bill would modestly increase many fees across the board, ranging from street vendor permits to the licenses required to install heating systems.

Quiñones-Sánchez says that in recent years the city reduced the overall number of licenses and permits, in an attempt to scrape antiquated regulations. Her bill is merely meant to bring the fee amounts for the remaining licenses up-to-date.

“This is a reform of everything,” says Quiñones-Sanchez. “It was actually a suggestion of the private sector that there were some fees that had not been touched in many years that the department should look to increase. We’ve shared it with the development constituency because it’s an area they told us we should look at for potential revenue.”

The fee updates are indeed wide-ranging. To request a Zoning Board of Adjustment administrative review will now cost $200 instead of $65, while accelerated hearings before that body will now cost $750 instead of $625. On a completely different note, the city’s fee structure for fireworks “and other pyrotechnic displays” is being changed to $350 per event, while the operational permit for the sale of fireworks would require a fee of $150 per property.

There will now be a non-refundable $20 application fee for those seeking a license to be a curbside vendor, although it will be credited towards the annual fee, which would be $330 instead of $300) per license. The additional annual fee paid by street vendors in University City—on top of the fees that vendors elsewhere in the city pay—would be increased from $2,750 to $3,000.

New fees will now be required for those seeking to obtain zoning permits to construct one-to-two family dwellings ($150) while those attempting to build any other kind of housing will incur a $500 fee. Zoning revisions to lots containing one or two family dwellings will increase from $30 to $440, while those for parcels equal or less than 30,000 square feet will go from $125 to $200.

A side effect of Quiñones-Sanchez’s bill became clear at the end of Thursday’s City Council session. In December, councilmembers Blondell Reynolds Brown, Mark Squilla, and Al Taubenberger introduced a bill meant to add an additional $350,000 annually to the revenue-starved Historical Commission. The fees were meant to come from a small fee assessed on those seeking building permits that required review by the commission. But that bill is now going to be put on ice because of Quiñones-Sanchez’s bill.

“We are going to hold and see how things play out with the bill that was introduced today,” says Hadji Maloumian, legislative director to councilwoman Brown. “Once we see where that is going we’ll then make a determination on what we are going to do with our bill. But it will not move before the [L&I fee] bill has been debated and settled.”

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