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Why do you have to pay $20 to have a block party?

As we noted Wednesday, the city charges over 175 different fees for licenses and permits. One of particular concern this time of year: The $20-per-block fee for a block party ($45 if you apply less than 21 days prior to the party).

What are you paying for when you pay for a block party? The city isn't bringing the burgers or the beer, right?

We asked Permits Officer Pat O'Donnell at the Streets Department, who said that the fees pay for administrative costs. Because there are guidelines for where a block party can be held, Streets needs to approve or deny a block party application. That means someone has to spend time looking into whether the block meets the requirements.

Those requirements: The block cannot be a nuisance block, have multiple bus or trolley routes running through it or be a busy roadway, O'Donnell said.

The increased fee if the block party application is submitted less than 21 days prior to the block party date is because administrative workers need to expedite the process of getting the application reviewed.

There are no other costs associated with the service.

Approval of a block party application allows the street(s) to be closed from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Block parties require the petitioner to get 75 percent of the block's residents to sign a petition. If the party is a birthday, wedding or serenade, 100 percent of residents need to sign the petition.

(For those wondering, serenades are popular in South Philly. After a couple gets engaged, the groom typically sings to his future bride outside of her home. It's a party.)

If you're planning a block party, download the application here.

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