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The Department of Licenses and Inspections shall have the power and its duty shall be to perform the following functions:
(a) Building Safety and Sanitation, Signs and Zoning. It shall, except as otherwise specifically provided in this charter, administer and enforce all statutes, ordinances and regulations for the protection of persons and property from hazards, in the use, condition, erection, alteration, maintenance, repair, sanitation (including the maintenance and condition of plumbing and drainage facilities and the maintenance of sanitary conditions in housing accommodations), removal and demolition of buildings and structures or any parts thereof and the grounds appurtenant thereto, in the operation of equipment therein, and of outdoor signs. Subject to the powers and duties of the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Department shall enforce compliance with zoning ordinances.
(b) Issuance of Licenses. The Department shall:
(1) Issue all forms for applications and receive all applications for any license;
(2) Determine whether the applicant is properly entitled to the license which he seeks;
(3) If the application is granted and the proper fee has been paid to the Department of Collections through its employees in the Department of Licenses and Inspections, issue the license to the applicant, either for itself or as agent for the officer, department, board or commission under whose jurisdiction the subject matter thereof falls;
(4) If the application is refused, notify the applicant in writing of the refusal and the reasons therefor.
The procedure shall be the same for original applications and for applications for transfer or renewal.
The requirements and standards to be met by applicants for licenses shall be established by the Department in all cases in which the Department is responsible for the functions involved. In all other cases, the requirements and standards shall be certified to the Department by the officers, departments, boards or commissions for which the Department is acting. The Department, when in doubt concerning the interpretation to be placed on the certified requirements or standards, may consult the certifying officer, department, board or commission, but the Department shall make the decision whether the license should be granted.
(c) Inspections. The Department shall make all inspections except as otherwise specifically provided in this charter.
The standards to be met upon inspections shall be established by the Department in all cases in which it is responsible for the function involved. In all other cases, except where the inspection is provided in this charter to be made by any officer, department, board or commission other than the Department of Licenses and Inspections, the standards shall be certified to the Department of Licenses and Inspections by the respective officers, departments, boards or commissions for which the Department is acting.
The Department shall train and maintain a competent force of inspectors, who, to the extent practicable, shall make single inspections within the scope of the functions of the Department to determine compliance with statutes, ordinances and regulations.
(d) Enforcement. The Department shall determine as the result of its inspections whether any person or the owner of any property is violating the conditions of any license, or whether or not any property owner is violating any statute, ordinance or regulation which it is the duty of the Department to enforce.
If the Department shall find a violation to exist, it shall forthwith make such order or take such other lawful action as may be necessary to correct the dangerous or unlawful condition, and if necessary it shall invoke the assistance of the Law Department or the Philadelphia Police or both.
(e) Revocation, Suspension or Cancellation of Licenses. Whenever the Department finds that the holder of any license is violating the conditions thereof, and whenever the officer, department, board or commission as whose agent the Department granted the license directs the Department to do so, it shall revoke, suspend or cancel the license. Any revocation, suspension or cancellation shall be in writing and shall state in detail the reasons therefor.
(f) Special Inspections on Request. The Department, on request of any officer, department, board or commission, shall make a special inspection of any property upon which unlawful conditions are believed to exist or of the manner in which the holder of any license is operating under it.
Sources: No specific source.
Purposes: 1. Municipal regulations to assure building safety, the maintenance of sanitary housing conditions, the safe use of outdoor signs and compliance with zoning ordinances are all functionally inter-related and involve essentially similar enforcement activities of licensing and inspection. For this reason and because enforcement has not been adequate or satisfactory, responsibility in these areas is centralized in the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
2. The Department of Licenses and Inspections will issue City licenses. See Annotation to Section 5-1000. However, license fees will be collected by a representative of Department of Collections stationed for the convenience of the public in the Department of Licenses and Inspections. See Section 6-200(d). The Department will issue licenses as the agent of any other City agency concerned in order to preserve the substantive power granted by statute or ordinance to such other agency. Due process motivates the requirement that upon the refusal of a license, the applicant shall be advised that it has been refused and the reasons why it has been refused.
3. The department primarily charged with the administration of any law being enforced through a license is the department which is to establish the standards to be met by an applicant for such a license because that department has an appreciation and a comprehension of the reasons why a license is required to a degree not possible to be had by the Department of Licenses and Inspections. The latter Department is to apply those standards in issuing a license so that issuance will not be delayed by administrative routing and red tape. Thus, licenses involving problems of health will be issued according to standards determined by the Department of Public Health; licenses involving fire prevention and safety measures will be issued according to standards set by the Fire Department; etc. The Department of Licenses and Inspections is required when it is in doubt as to the application of standards, and should generally as a matter of good practice, consult with the various departments concerned, in discharging its licensing functions. In the case of building safety and sanitation, signs and zoning, standards will be set by the Department of Licenses and Inspections because it is charged with the substantive administrative functions in these categories.
4. While the centralization of all inspection functions in the Department of Licenses and Inspections is the ultimate goal sought, if feasible, testimony presented at public hearings on the proposed Charter indicated that as a practical matter this could not be accomplished at once. Accordingly, the Charter envisages the gradual transfer of all inspections, if feasible, to the Department. Pending such transfer, each department vested with enforcement powers, such as the Departments of Public Health and Fire, are to continue to perform inspection functions. These are to be transferred to the Department of Licenses and Inspections in the course of time upon the order of the Mayor with the approval of the Administrative Board. Section 8-412.
5. Standards to be met upon inspections are to be determined by the departments primarily responsible for the functions involved because they will be peculiarly competent to appraise and determine what shall constitute conformance with laws and regulations within the sphere of their functions. Thus, the Fire Department will determine what standards must be met by persons engaged in occupations involving the storage of combustible materials. The Department of Public Health will set the standards to be met upon inspection of barber shops because the problem involved is one of public health.
6. The good to be achieved by the ultimate centralization of all inspection functions would be limited if the present practice of multiple inspections of the same property and the activities conducted therein were continued. For this reason, the requirement is imposed of single inspections through appropriately trained inspectors to the extent practicable.
7. Since inspection is required primarily for law enforcement purposes, the Department of Licenses and Inspections is required to note violations of laws and regulations which it has the duty to enforce and to take appropriate action to correct any unlawful conditions. It may call upon the Law Department or the Philadelphia Police or both to aid in the enforcement process.
8. As part of its licensing functions, the Department is required to revoke, suspend or cancel licenses when conditions upon which such licenses were granted are being violated. Discovery of violations may be made by the Department itself in fulfillment of its other law enforcement functions, or may come about by discovery or act of other departments in the performance of their functions. For this reason, an order from any other department to cancel a license is to be given full effect. Due process requires notification of such action and the reasons therefor.
9. Since the Department of Licenses and Inspections will ultimately conduct most, if not all, inspections, specific provision is made that the Department shall fulfill the request of any department for a special inspection.