Expediting From a New Perspective

Newbie on the Block

June concludes my first month at Philadelphia Zoning as an expeditor. Let me tell you, it was no joke. Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of jokes exchanged between me and my fantastic expediting trainer. However, to execute the role of a seasoned expeditor requires a true mastery of both the Art and the Science of City Zoning Code.

 

One might think the reason to hire an expeditor is because it is too much of a headache to obtain a permit on their own. To master all of the intricate, inconsistent, and extensive knowledge that is required to successfully navigate the permitting process in the city of Philadelphia, can take months, even years to acquire.

 

There are so many cogs in the great machine of zoning that it makes sense to seek the help of a professional who has those months or years of experience. But in this last month I have to appreciate the value of time in expediting.

 

Time is Money

In many of my 2+ hour trips to License and Inspections (L&I), I could not help but think who has the time to do this if it isn’t their job? And if it isn’t their job, what is the likelihood of getting all the correct signatures and stamps on their application. The answer is pretty close to zero.

 

The fact is, permitting is a slow process, and applying can take hours. Even when you know what you’re doing it may take between 6-12 hours in preparation and wait time to obtain a by-right permit.

 

Factor in multiple trips and multiple requests for additional information and you’ve spent more than a couple of days running back and forth from one department to another, and months waiting to hear back from your plans examiner to find out exactly what is is you even need.

 

If you think the Streets Department, City Planning Commission, Office of Property Assessment, and License and Inspections are all conveniently located on the same floor of the same building you are sorely mistaken. Sore, from all that literal running around you’ve been doing.

 

Repeat Offender

Just like any job, there are perks to being a regular at L&I. I’m not saying that they can push anything along for us. But just like how your barista at your favorite coffee shop is extra patient with your obnoxious iced-frappe-mocha-caramel-swirl-latte because they see your face everyday, I’ve noticed that L&I employees will answer questions we have that aren’t even related to the projects we brought down that day. This helps us help your projects get completed in the most efficient way possible.

 

Not everything about the zoning process is intuitive. In fact, in my first month I think I can pretty accurately compare my questions about zoning to the Greek monster Hydra. When one gets answered I immediately have two more that develop from the first one. However, I can honestly say that the work we do here is changing Philadelphia and its citizens for the better, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the team.

Elizabeth Coffey
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